The Atmosphere of Io

Jun 14, 2010
Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, is seen in front of Jupiter's cloudy atmosphere in this image from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, now orbiting the giant planet. Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Io is one of the four moons of Jupiter that Galileo discovered after he turned his new telescope heavenward. They shocked him and his contemporaries because they demonstrated that heavenly bodies can orbit objects other than the Earth.

Io in particular continues to amaze scientists. It orbits closer to the cloud tops of than our moon does to the earth, and is strongly subjected to Jupiter's powerful and its intense radiation belts.

One consequence is that Io is the most volcanic object known anywhere, with lava flows, erupting with plumes of sulfurous material, and a changing of noxious gases. The 1979 Voyager flyby observations revealed many of these details, but many puzzles remain.

It is estimated, for example, that one ton of material needs to be ejected into Io's atmosphere every second in order to replenish the gases that escape from its atmosphere, but it is not known whether it all comes from volcanic gas or perhaps from the evaporation of surface ices.

CfA astronomers Arielle Moullet and Mark Gurwell, together with two colleagues, used the Submillimeter Array to image the surface of Io in key diagnostic lines of and, for the first time, in sulfur monoxide and sodium chloride.

They write in the latest issue of the journal Icarus that these three species of gases appear to be concentrated on the anti-jovian side of Io, although with different spatial distributions.

The scientists conclude that ice sublimation is most probably the origin of the sulfur dioxide, while the sulfur monoxide may in turn be a product of the sulfur dioxide interacting with radiation. The , on the other hand, most likely comes from volcanoes.

The group also derives temperature and density information for the gas. The new results help to sort out competing models of this bizarre satellite, and highlight the disruptive role that volcanoes can play in other solar system bodies besides the earth.

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User comments : 19

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kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (8) Jun 15, 2010
It is estimated, for example, that one ton of material needs to be ejected into Io's atmosphere every second in order to replenish the gases that escape from its atmosphere,


So this raises the obvious question: Just how much material needs to be on Io for it to vent like that for 4.5Ga? Answer - many times it own weight.

So where does it get its material from to continue to exist after 4.5Ga?

Was it much much larger when it originally formed?

Was it much further away from Jupiter long ago and just when did the volcanic eruptions start?

More puzzles for the astronomers to figure out.

Maybe, just maybe, Io is very young, say about 6000 to 10000 years old?
Skeptic_Heretic
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 15, 2010
Kev,

Are you really this uneducated?
yyz
5 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2010
"More puzzles for the astronomers to figure out."

"Maybe, just maybe, Io is very young, say about 6000 to 10000 years old?"

Maybe, just maybe, let the scientists figure this out(they're so good at this science stuff, you know). Say a prayer for them, if it makes you feel better.

mysticshakra
1 / 5 (9) Jun 15, 2010
Skeptic,

"Educated" is usually just another word for "indoctrinated". It is nothing more than our current ignorant and narrow minded vision of the universe.

The process of education assumes we know the facts, which is usually untrue. Every educated generation thought it knew how things worked, yet all were wrong. And their education was discarded. Why do we continue to think we are so different?

However, I don't think a young Io is the mostly likely interpretation here. See Neal Adams work.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 15, 2010
"Educated" is usually just another word for "indoctrinated". It is nothing more than our current ignorant and narrow minded vision of the universe.
I'm not going to debate established scientific mechanics with someone who supports astral projection as a manner of healing physical disease. Making it up isn't the same as learning from observation. You'd do well to remember that.
Adriab
5 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2010
@mysticshakra
Every educated generation thought it knew how things worked, yet all were wrong. And their education was discarded.


No.
Education has not been discarded. It has been built upon, redirected, refined, and so on, but not summarily discarded.
Seriously now, to get where we are now in terms of science and technology took many generations of many smart people educating themselves and others in theories and concepts. Our current models may be wrong in the eyes of future generations, but its a work in progress.
gmurphy
4.5 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2010
The mass of Io is 8.9x10^22 kg. So, in tons, that's about 8.9x10^19 tons. 4.5 Billion years, at a ton of ejected material per day, comes to 1.6x10^12 tons. That's ejected material. The meteorite flux (incoming material) on earth is about 10^8 kg per year, or 10^5 tons, Io presents a smaller target for meteorites, so the meteorite flux is bound to be smaller, but still a significant figure, measuring in the thousands of tons.
Quarl
5 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2010
gmurphy,

Don't you have to multiply that number by 8.64x10^4 to make it one ton per second as the article mentions? That still won't eat the entire moon and is probably offset by Jupiter's sloppy eating habits...
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2010
gmurphy,

Don't you have to multiply that number by 8.64x10^4 to make it one ton per second as the article mentions? That still won't eat the entire moon and is probably offset by Jupiter's sloppy eating habits...

well if we want to get snippy about it we'd have to account for the fact that Io is closer to the asteroid belt and will suck up far more dust through gravitation than the earth, in addition to receiving constant runoff from jupiter and the sun's ejecta as well.

If anything the balance would be more in favor of Io being older rather than newer.
mysticshakra
1 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2010
Skeptic,

The placebo effect establishes that the mind, and by extension belief, has the ability to heal and control physical processes which include diseases.

Quantum mechanics shows that everything is connected. Why do you find it unreasonable that consciousness is, and can act, non-locally?

Memory has shown to be non-local. On the lowest level everything energy and consciousness is the only thing that can manipulate energy. Thought is instantaneous and requires no time. So why couldn't you heal someone from a distance? You accept radio signals don't you?

My reference to Neal Adams was about growing planets BTW, not AP.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (4) Jun 16, 2010
That is complete pseudoscience fed with a small amount of psychiatry.

I'd reccomend you complete the psychiatry course, or at least up to the part where they talk about delusion and gate theory.
mysticshakra
1 / 5 (4) Jun 16, 2010
Pseudoscience is a smear term that doesn't have much meaning anymore, if we apply these standards to "real science" many accepted theories would quickly fall.

So what exactly are rejecting? The placebo effect? Non local memory? Quantum Bell space?
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2010
So what exactly are rejecting? The placebo effect? Non local memory? Quantum Bell space?

First, all pain originates in the brain. The placebo effect only affects the brain. In some cases the brain can cause physiological malady due to protein release or metabolism caused by reactions to pain.

All memory resides in the brain, and before you go there, muscle memory is not memory, it is reflexive instinct and is still governed by the brain.

If you would like me to speak to quantum bell space you'll need to tell me what you think it is.
mysticshakra
1.7 / 5 (7) Jun 16, 2010
The placebo effect deals with more than just pain, but I am sure you already knew that. Cancer, diabetes, depression, etc. Belief in not tangible, but it does affect the brain which is, and the brain affects the body which also is.

Actually NO memory resides in the brain. There is a ton of literature about this. Science has tried to find out where memory is stored and have come up with zilch. No matter what part of the brain removed, memory is unaffected.

Nice duck and cover on the last one.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2010
The placebo effect deals with more than just pain, but I am sure you already knew that. Cancer, diabetes, depression, etc. Belief in not tangible, but it does affect the brain which is, and the brain affects the body which also is.
Sources please.

Actually NO memory resides in the brain. There is a ton of literature about this. Science has tried to find out where memory is stored and have come up with zilch. No matter what part of the brain removed, memory is unaffected.
Completely wrong, thanks but try again.

Nice duck and cover on the last one.

I "stand" unrefuted thus far.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (5) Jun 17, 2010
The mass of Io is 8.9x10^22 kg. So, in tons, that's about 8.9x10^19 tons. 4.5 Billion years, at a ton of ejected material per day, comes to 1.6x10^12 tons. That's ejected material. The meteorite flux (incoming material) on earth is about 10^8 kg per year, or 10^5 tons, Io presents a smaller target for meteorites, so the meteorite flux is bound to be smaller, but still a significant figure, measuring in the thousands of tons.

Perhaps one should allow for the fact that initially the outflow was much larger than the quoted figure. This is simply going by what we see volcanoes do today.
Even if the outflow doesn't eat up all the mass of Io it still raises the question - where did the mass come from to replenish the moon. If no replenishment occurred what size did Io start off with? And just how is it that it got that close to Jupiter?
LKD
1 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2010
If the moon has been shrinking from twice its size (estimated to get to the point) then shouldn't there be creases on the surface to acount for the shrikage? Like a rasin from a grape, or whatever example you like.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2010
If the moon has been shrinking from twice its size (estimated to get to the point) then shouldn't there be creases on the surface to acount for the shrikage? Like a rasin from a grape, or whatever example you like.


It's volcanic, man!
nuge
Jun 19, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Ashibayai
not rated yet Jun 20, 2010
Jupiter + planets, asteroids, comets, dust, or rings = possible moon formation material.

I wouldn't worry about it shrinking.