Exploring Loki Patera: Juno’s Close-Up of Io’s Lava Lake on Jupiter’s Moon – NASA Discoveries and Latest Updates

2024-04-24 21:39:17

This drawing shows a lava lake called Loki Patera on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Io. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

[The Epoch Times, 25 avril 2024](Comprehensive report by Epoch Times reporter Li Yan) Close-up shot by NASA’s “Juno” spacecraft shows people Jupiter’s moon Io (Io) A huge lava lake with a cooled surface that also appears smooth than glass.

The spacecraft flew within 1,500 kilometers of Io’s volcanic surface in December 2023 and January 2024, making the closest observations of Jupiter’s large, innermost moon. Io is home to hundreds of active volcanoes and is the most volcanically active world in the solar system.

New images show the 200-kilometre-long Loki Patera lava lake on the surface of Io. Scientists have been observing this lava lake for decades. It sits above a magma chamber beneath Io’s surface. Scott Bolton, principal investigator of the Juno mission, said at a news conference at the General Assembly of the European Geophysical Union in Vienna on April 16 that the cooling lava in the center of the lake may have been surrounded by molten magma.

“Specular reflections from the lake recorded by our instruments indicate that parts of Io’s surface are as smooth as glass, reminiscent of volcanically produced obsidian glass on Earth,” Bolton said.

The interior of the lava lake is dotted with rugged rocky islands. “Amazing details show that these crazy islands are embedded in the middle of a potential magma lake with red-hot molten rock at the edge,” Bolton said.

On April 9, 2024, the JunoCam instrument aboard NASA’s Juno captured this view of Jupiter’s moon Io during its 60th flyby of Jupiter’s scene, and captured the first image of the south polar region of Io. (Gerald Eichstädt/Thomas Thomopoulos, CC BY)

“Apart from Earth, this is the only place in the solar system where we see active magmatic volcanoes.” Bolton said that although the magma temperature on Io reaches thousands of degrees, its surface temperature can be minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 100 degrees). Celsius).

Juno’s instruments determined that Io’s surface is smoother than that of Jupiter’s three other Galilean moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Io is slightly larger than Earth’s Moon, and its unmolten surface is covered mostly in yellow sulfur and sulfur dioxide.

“When a volcano erupts and the magma comes out, it immediately freezes and can form sulfur snow,” Bolton said.

A new study published April 18 in the journal Science by an independent team of researchers shows that Io’s terrain lacks contours because Europa is so volcanically active that lava constantly covers the Moon’s surface, obliterating Io’s craters. impact on its surface.

The research team also used the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array in Chile to observe gases in Io’s atmosphere. Researchers found evidence of an abundance of sulfur and chlorine. This suggests that Io has likely been volcanically active and releasing these gases for most or all of its 4 billion year history.

First discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, Io is only slightly larger than the Moon, but it is unlike any other place in the solar system.

Bolton said he often describes Io as “Jupiter’s tortured moon” because it is constantly being torn apart by Jupiter, Europa and Ganymede. This force is so powerful that Io’s surface protrudes 100 meters high and generates enormous heat. This is why the subsoil of Io is in the state of liquid rock.

Researchers believe the liquid rock is made of molten sulfur or silicate rock and that volcanic eruptions help Io relieve pressure. According to NASA, their eruptions are sometimes so powerful that they can be observed with telescopes on Earth.

Io has been studied by several spacecraft so far, including the Pioneer and Voyager probes in the 1970s and the Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s. Today, Juno’s revelations are helping scientists understand this as never before. which motivates Io’s volcanism.

Juno continues to fly by Jupiter, collecting data on its violent polar cyclones. Each cyclone is as large as the continental United States. The spacecraft will make its 61st flyby of Jupiter on May 12.

(This article references Live Science and CNN reports)

Editor-in-chief: Lin Yan#

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