The mottled face of Jupiter's volcanically active moon Io as viewed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.
The mottled face of Jupiter's volcanically active moon Io [pronounced 'EYE-oh' or 'EE-OH'], viewed by the camera onboard NASA's Galileo spacecraft, shows dramatic changes since it was seen 17 years ago by the exploratory NASA spacecraft Voyagers 1 and 2. This Galileo image, taken on June 25, 1996 at a range of 2.24 million kilometers (1.4 million miles), is centered on the Media Regio area and shows details of the volcanic regions and colored deposits that characterize Io. North is at the top of the picture and the Sun illuminates the surface from the east (right). The smallest features that can be discerned here are approximately 23 kilometers (14 miles) in size, a resolution comparable to the best Voyager images of this face of Io. Io's surface is covered with volcanic deposits that are thought to contain ordinary silicate rock, along with various sulfur-rich compounds that give the satellite its distinctive color. In the brighter areas the surface is coated with frosts of sulfur dioxide. Dark areas are regions of current or recent volcanic activity. Planetary scientists say many changes are evident in the surface markings since this region of Io was imaged 17 years ago by the Voyager spacecraft. The bright regions near the eastern limb of the moon are much more prominent in the Galileo images than they were previously. Surface details have also changed dramatically in the vicinity of the eruptive volcano Masubi (the large, predominantly white feature seen near the 6 o'clock position in this view). Masubi was discovered as an active volcano during the Voyager encounters of Io in 1979.
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