Have you come to this blog looking for basic information on Io? Well many of the posts here may seem a bit overwhelming without a bit of understanding of the main topic, Jupiter's moon Io. On this page, I have organized a list of links that will be helpful to new visitors, as well as a list of overview posts that highlight the latest in Io science.
Overview of IoIo is the innermost of the four large moons of Jupiter, also known as the Galilean satellites. Io is a little larger than the Earth's moon but has a surface that couldn't be more different. While the ancient surface of our moon is dominated by impact craters and large basalt "mare" provinces that are 3-4 billion years old, Io's surface is continuously being renewed, with more than 400 volcanic depressions known as a paterae and more than 130 mountains, the vast majority of which are created by tremendous compressional stresses in Io's crust. Vigorous volcanic activity coats the surface with basaltic lava, sulfur, and sulfur dioxide frost, making Io one of most colorful planetary bodies in the solar system, with shades of red, green, yellow, and purple splashed across its surface. The engine for Io's volcanism is tidal heating. Io's orbit is slightly eccentric and Jupiter's gravitational pull on Io varies over the course of an Ionian day as the satellite moves closer to or farther from the giant planet. The gravitational pulls of two other Galilean satellites, Europa and Ganymede, prevent Io from circularizing its orbit, so the tidal energy produced is dissipated instead by heating Io's interior.
For more information on Io and its volcanism, check out the following links:
- On Wikipedia, check out the Io, Volcanism on Io, and Exploration of Io articles. The first two are featured articles on the online encyclopedia, representing some of the best content there. Plus, I regularly review content changes to those articles in order to maintain their high quality. I am also beginning to prepare more articles on several of Io's volcanic features, such as Pele, Masubi, and Tawhaki Vallis, Thor, and Tupan Patera.
- Janet Wood created a neat site about 10 years ago on Io that is still helpful for providing an overview of Io science called Io: Jupiter's Volcanic Moon
- The USGS has a website dedicated to planetary nomenclature, or surface feature names. Their section on Io provides a list of official names used for volcanoes and mountains on Io.
- Looking for a map of Io? Scientists at the USGS office in Flagstaff created a basemap based on Voyager and Galileo images of the satellite several years ago. Several versions of this map can be found on their website as well as a PDF version of the color basemap with feature names added.
- Looking for images from the Voyager, Galileo, or New Horizons spacecraft? A good place to look for officially released versions of spacecraft images is the Planetary Photojournal, which has a page for Io images. I also have a page where I've done my own processing of the raw data from Voyager, Galileo, and New Horizons.
From the BlogWhile generally I post articles related to recent news or the latest papers, from time to time I also post articles that provide an overview of a topic of Ionian research, whether it is on the formation of Io's volcanoes or the composition of its surface. I believe these articles are of the most interest to new readers, so I've listed a few of them here:
- Io@400: A series of posts covering Galileo Galilei's Discovery of Io in 1610
- Formation of Paterae (volcanic craters) on Io
- Formation of Mountains on Io
- The Chemical Composition of Io
- The Science of observing Io while it is eclipsed by Jupiter
- Boösaule Montes: The Tallest Mountain on Io
- Astronomy from Io
- The Potential for Science at Io from the upcoming Juno mission
- Summary of the proposed Io Volcano Observer mission
- The Potential for Science at Io from the upcoming Europa/Jupiter System Mission
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