Io's Atmosphere Is Decimated Daily

Io's Atmosphere Is Decimated Daily

In case the towering sulfur eruptions, rock tides, and lakes of molten lava weren't enough to keep you away, Jupiter's moon Io now has another reason humans probably shouldn't visit: its atmosphere is constantly being destroyed and rebuilt. According to a 2016 article in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Jupiter's massive shadow is to blame. Every time Io passes behind Jupiter, its surface temperature drops and its sulfur-dioxide-rich atmosphere begins to collapse and eventually freeze into a thin layer of frost on the moon's surface. But like a sunbather beneath the world's largest cloud, Io soon begins to thaw out and warm up again as it passes out of Jupiter's shadow. That warming makes the frost re-sublimate, or turn back into gas, and the atmosphere rebuilds. Learn more about Jupiter's strange moons with the videos below.

Io's Atmosphere Collapses and Rebuilds Daily

Hear about how astronomers discovered the phenomenon.

A Tour of Io

BBC's Brian Cox guides us through the many wonders of Jupiter's moon Io.

05:24

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Io orbits Jupiter faster than its outer sister moons, Europa and Ganymede. (0:36)

  • 2

    The largest volcanic eruptions in the solar system occur on Io. (2:52)

  • 3

    Io's volcanic plumes can reach 500 km (310 mi) above its surface. (3:24)

Does Io Have An Underground Ocean of Magma?

Io's volcanoes aren't located where scientists think they should be, and that poses a mystery.

03:10

Meet Jupiter's Moons

A guide to Jupiter's many moons.

10:30

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, is bigger than the planet Mercury. (1:14)

  • 2

    Io is the most volcanic object in the solar system, with more than 400 active volcanoes. (3:31)

  • 3

    Many scientists believe that Europa could harbor life. (6:26)

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