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Jupiter's Hot, Mushy MoonJupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System. Observations by instruments on the Galileo spacecraft and on telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawai'i indicate that lava flows on Io are surprisingly hot, over 1200 oC and possibly as much as 1300 oC; a few areas might have lava flows as hot as 1500 oC. Such high temperatures imply that the lava flows are composed of rock that formed by a very large amount of melting of Io's mantle. This has led Laszlo Keszthelyi and Alfred S. McEwen of the University of Arizona and me to reawaken an old hypothesis that suggests that the interior of Io is a partially-molten mush of crystals and magma. The idea, which had fallen out of favor for a decade or two, explains high-temperature hot spots, mountains, calderas, and volcanic plains on Io. If correct, Io gives us an opportunity to study processes that operate in huge, global magma systems, which scientists believe were important during the early history of the Moon and Earth, and possibly other planetary bodies as well. Though far from proven, the idea that Io has a ocean of mushy magma beneath its crust can be tested with measurements by future spacecraft.
Document ID
20040010614
Document Type
Other
Authors
Taylor, G. Jeffrey (Hawaii Univ. Honolulu, HI, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Space Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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