slideshow 1 slideshow 2 slideshow 3 slideshow 4 slideshow 5 slideshow 6

You are here

Io Outburst Shines in Plasma Torus

Between September and December 2022, a small telescope in the Arizona desert observed a brightening of the plasma torus caused by Io’s charged volcanic particles.

IMAGE: The volcano-laced surface of Jupiter’s moon Io was captured in infrared by the Juno spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) imager as it flew by at a distance of about 80,000 kilometers on July 5, 2022. Brighter spots indicate higher temperatures in this image. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Morgenthaler hopes that as the end of this outburst was coincidentally close to December’s flyby of Io by Juno, instruments onboard the spacecraft can provide us with more information about the composition of the particles in this outburst.

Additionally, these particles can cause changes to the overall plasma environment around Jupiter, and for sensitive instruments such as those on Juno as well as ESA’s upcoming JUICE mission, those changes could disrupt or even damage the instruments. In fact, Io is the only Galilean moon the JUICE mission isn’t going to visit because of the risk to its instrumentation.

That doesn’t mean observing Io is out of the question. In addition to last month’s flyby, Juno is scheduled to make another pass by the volcanic moon in December 2023. JWST will likely list Io among the upcoming targets at some point. The telescopes at the Keck Observatory have imaged Io’s volcanic eruptions from their mountain peak. And we’ll always have that little telescope in the Arizona desert, patiently watching and collecting data on my favorite moon.

Jan. 15, 2023
Page maintained by
plg [at] (P. Gay)

PSI is a Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Corporation, and an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer
Corporate Headquarters: 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106 * Tucson, AZ 85719-2395 * 520-622-6300 * FAX: 520-622-8060
Copyright © 2022 . All Rights Reserved.