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Detection of SO in Io's Exosphere

Science  17 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5460, pp. 1998-1999
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5460.1998

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Abstract

The Galileo orbiter's close pass by Io in 1995 produced evidence for extensive mass loading of the plasma torus through the ionization of SO2. On 11 October 1999, Galileo passed even closer to Io, this time across the upstream side relative to the flow of magnetospheric plasma that corotates with Jupiter. On the first flyby, ion cyclotron waves gave direct evidence for the production of SO2 + ions. On the second flyby, ion cyclotron waves associated with SO+ were stronger and more persistent. Moreover, SO+ emissions were seen closer to Io than SO2 + emissions, suggesting that the exosphere was spatially inhomogeneous. The location of the waves suggests a fan-shaped region of ion pickup extending in the anti-Jupiter direction. Because the wave spectra were different even where the 1995 and 1999 trajectories crossed, we infer that Io's exosphere is temporally variable.

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