A recent research study reveals that Io-Jupiter´s innermost moon, possesses a thin atmosphere that fluctuates between ice phase and gas. The study shows atmospheric variations every time Jupiter casts its shadow over Io´s surface. Scientists discovered that Io´s atmosphere changes when its Surface is completely covered by Jupiter´s shadow. This occurs during the two hours that this moon is not receiving the Sun´s rays due that it´s undergoing a total eclipse.

Jupiter´s innermost satellite-Io

Jupiter´s natural satellite Io is the most volcanically active astronomical object in the solar system and has a thin atmosphere that is composed of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Volcanic activity on this moon is caused by tidal heating, which is due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter and its moons. The active volcanoes on Io expel plumes of SO2 that can extend for over 480 km (300 miles) into Io´s atmosphere. The nearly 400 active volcanoes on its surface make Io the most geologically active body in the solar system.

How Io´s atmosphere varies?

This moon undergoes atmospheric changes each tie Jupiter cats it shadow over Io´s surface. Io orbits Jupiter once every 42.5 hours, so this moon is totally in darkness every 1.7 earth days for around two hours. It´s atmosphere, consisting of mostly SO2 Solidifies-freezes, when shadowed by Jupiter and becomes gas-sublimes, again when Io moves out of eclipse from Jupiter and is able to receive its share of sunlight.

It was shown that Io´s atmosphere goes to a radical change when the temperatures decrease from -235° F (112° C) when facing the sun to -270° F (132° C) during eclipse. Jupiter´s casting shadow over Io occurs for two hours of each Io day, which is equal to 1.7 earth days (42.5 hours).

The sun influences atmospheric changes

The study revealed that Io´s atmosphere undergoes a permanent state of variation and that the main chemical process taking place during this fluctuation is sublimation of SO2.

Although the source of SO2 on Io´s atmosphere are its volcanoes, the sun´s energy ultimately regulates the atmospheric pressure and the temperature of this Jupiter´s natural companion..

This had been a great discovery that helps scientists advance in their knowledge of Jupiter and its moons. This along with other Science studies will help scientists expand their knowledge about the solar system and Astronomy.