IMAGES: Adieu to Io

Science  14 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5575, pp. 1935c
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5575.1935c

Jupiter's moon Io has a complexion even Clearasil couldn't help: pockmarked and stained with cream, purple, and orange splotches. These blemishes excite astronomers because they're caused by some 120 volcanoes spewing sulfurous lava, making Io the most volcanically active place in the solar system.

After observing Jupiter and then detouring to Io nearly 3 years ago, NASA's Galileo spacecraft has snapped its last pictures of this turbulent moon. You can check out the final haul of images here. The probe's cameras have discovered scores of new volcanoes—13 craters in one recent flyby alone. The data have also raised plenty of puzzles for planetary geologists to mull, including how nonvolcanic mountains arise on a world without plate tectonics. Running short on fuel and toasted by radiation, Galileo will circle Jupiter once more before diving into the planet's atmosphere in September 2003.

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