Planetologists suspect that Jupiter’s moon Io has sand dunes

(ORDO NEWS) — Dunes have been allegedly discovered on Jupiter’s moon Io. An article about this was published in Nature Communications.

Io is the closest moon to Jupiter, orbiting with a radius of 420,000 kilometers. Its diameter is close to that of the Earth’s Moon, but Io is distinguished by powerful volcanic activity and a bright yellow surface due to its high sulfur content.

George MacDonald of Rutgers University and his colleagues analyzed data from the Galileo spacecraft, which studied the Jupiter system in 1995-2003.

They measured the linear structures on the surface, called ridges, visible in the image. It turned out that their sizes and distances between the ridges correspond to those of dunes in other parts of the solar system, including on Earth.

Previously, planetary scientists believed that Io’s topography was primarily due to ejections and flows of material from volcanoes, and the formation of dunes was impossible due to an overly resolved atmosphere and, accordingly, weak winds.

Scientists now suggest that the linear structures are actually sand dunes. “Our study indicates that Io may be a new dune world,” the authors say. “We tested a model that describes the movement of grains of sand, and it showed that dunes could indeed form there.”

If the findings of the study are confirmed, this would mean that the dunes form in a much wider range of climatic conditions than scientists thought.

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