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.
A NASA spacecraft sees a volcanic explosion on Jupiter’s third-largest moon.
The LORRI camera aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured these images of Io’s Tvashtar volcano erupting.
Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. At 2,263 miles in diameter, it is slightly larger than Earth’s moon.
Collapsed volcanoes form large, dark spots on Io’s surface.
Lava spills onto the surface of Io during a volcanic eruption.
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
- Julia Calderone (USRA) [Lead]