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Tvashtar in Motion
Tvashtar in Motion
 
 

Tvashtar in Motion
Date: 1 Mar 2007

This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from Io's Tvashtar volcano. Snapped by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter in 2007, this first-ever movie of an Io plume clearly shows motion in the cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 km (200 miles) above the moon's surface. Only the upper part of the plume is visible from this vantage point. The plume's source is 130 km (80 miles) below the edge of Io's disk, on the far side of the moon.


The appearance and motion of the plume is remarkably similar to an ornamental fountain on Earth, replicated on a gigantic scale. The knots and filaments that allow us to track the plume's motion are still mysterious, but this movie is likely to help scientists understand their origin, as well as provide unique information on the plume dynamics.


Io's hyperactive nature is emphasized by the fact that two other volcanic plumes are also visible off the edge of Io's disk: Masubi at the 7 o'clock position, and a very faint plume, possibly from the volcano Zal, at the 10 o'clock position. Jupiter illuminates the night side of Io, and the most prominent feature visible on the disk is the dark horseshoe shape of the volcano Loki, likely an enormous lava lake. Boosaule Mons, which at 18 km (11 miles) is the highest mountain on Io and one of the highest mountains in the solar system, pokes above the edge of the disk on the right side.


The five images were obtained over an 8-minute span, with two minutes between frames, from 23:50 to 23:58 Universal Time on 1 March 2007. Io was 3.8 million km (2.4 million miles) from New Horizons; the image is centered at Io coordinates 0 degrees north, 342 degrees west.


The pictures were part of a sequence designed to look at Jupiter's rings, but planners included Io in the sequence because the moon was passing behind Jupiter's rings at the time.


Last Update: 20 Sept 2011 (AMB)

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute



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Last Updated: 20 Sep 2011