PerspectivePlanetary Science

Io and the Plasma Torus

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Science  10 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5336, pp. 237-238
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5336.237

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Jupiter's moon Io is far from being a calm place. Volcanic activity and the emission of planetary matter has created a huge plasma torus along its orbit around Jupiter, but the mechanisms that sustain and control the plasma remain puzzling. In her Perspective, McGrath discusses results published in the same issue by Brown and Bouchez showing that volcanic activity on Io has a direct effect on the plasma torus. This work, combined with other recent observations, is leading to a much better understanding of this extremely unusual planetary object.