Planets and Moons 

Io Erupts

En route to the icy worlds inhabiting the outer regions of our solar system, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Jupiter, catching Io, the planet’s third-largest moon, enduring a volcanic explosion. Locked in a perpetual tug of war between the imposing gravity of Jupiter and the smaller, consistent pulls of its neighboring moons, Io’s distorted orbit causes it to flex as it swoops around the gas giant. The stretching causes friction and intense heat in Io’s interior, sparking massive eruptions across its surface. Images snapped by the spacecraft’s high-resolution telescopic camera in March 2007 show a 200-mile-high plume spewing from Tvashtar volcano in Io’s northern hemisphere. Watch the video to see it for yourself.


Story Credits

Writer:
Julia Calderone (USRA)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Video courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Globe image courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS
Surface image courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS
Surface close-up courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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