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Beyond Earthly Skies

Io Volcano Observer (IVO)

25 Sep 2013, 10:00 UTC
Io Volcano Observer (IVO)
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Io is the innermost of the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter and it is also the most volcanically active world in the Solar System, with hundreds of active volcanoes scattered over its surface. All that volcanic activity is caused by intense tidal heating from friction generated within Io’s interior as it is pulled between Jupiter and the other 3 Galilean moons - Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The largest volcanic plumes on Io reach a few hundred kilometres above the surface. With almost no impact craters, Io’s surface is extremely young, and is constantly reshaping itself.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of Io and Jupiter.Io Volcano Observer (IVO) is a proposed spacecraft that if selected by NASA, will orbit Jupiter and perform repeated flybys of Io to explore Io’s active volcanism and its impact on the Jupiter system as a whole. The science objectives of IVO are to:- understand the eruption and emplacement of Io’s currently active lavas and plumes;- determine the melt state of Io’s mantle and map heat flow patterns to distinguish between shallow and deep-mantle tidal heating;- determine the state of Io’s lithosphere and understand its tectonic processes via observations of mountains and paterae;- understand Io’s surface-plume-atmosphere compositions and interactions;- ...

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