(ORDO NEWS) — Imagine what would happen if our atmosphere suddenly freezes and crashes to the ground. Most likely, this will mean the instant death of all life on the planet. Represented? But for Io, Jupiter’s moon, it’s just a weekday Tuesday.
In a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research: Planets , the researchers announced that they had discovered a strange pattern on Io’s surface (the record holder for the highest volcanic activity in the entire solar system).
The thin atmosphere, made up mostly of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas produced by volcanic eruptions, is destroyed every time Jupiter passes between its moon and the Sun, causing temperatures to plummet.
The decay lasts about 2 hours and occurs every 1.7 Earth days, after which sunlight again reaches the surface of the satellite, turning sulfur dioxide from a solid back to a gaseous state.
“This confirms that Io’s atmosphere is in a constant state of destruction and repair, and also shows that much of the atmosphere is maintained by the sublimation of icy SO2,” says John Spencer, co-author of the new study. “We’ve suspected this for a long time, but now we’ve finally been able to see it for ourselves.”
Temperatures on Io are still much colder than anywhere else on Earth. Under the influence of the Sun, the moon heats up to -235 degrees Fahrenheit (-148.33 degrees Celsius ), and in the shadow of Jupiter it cools to -270 degrees ( -167.78 degrees Celsius).
The first observations of its atmosphere were made in 2013 using the Gemini North telescope, which is equipped with a lens 7.92 meters in diameter.
With his help and with the help of a special spectrograph, scientists determined changes in the temperature of the atmosphere and its collapse during freezing.
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