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Jupiter's Moon Io Has a Volcanic Sub-Surface

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the other-moons-seething-with-envy dept.

NASA 48

gabbo529 writes "NASA scientists have discovered new information on one of Jupiter's moons, indicating it has a molten magma sub-surface (abstract). This discovery, made using data analysis from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, reveals why that particular moon is the most volcanic object known in the solar system. The moon, which is named Io, produces about 100 times more lava each year than all the volcanoes on Earth combined. The global magma ocean about 30 to 50 kilometers (20 to 30 miles) beneath Io's surface explains the moon's activity." Science has a nice graphic, too.

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What... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112380)

NASA scientists have discovered new information on one of Jupiter's moons

Who put it there?

Re:What... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112428)

The goatse man.

Re:What... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113068)

It went there of its own accord. It just wants to be free!

I thought this was known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112420)

For decades, even. Moltern sulfur mantle was in my HSscience text -- were they just lying with plausible speculation presented as fact? Or is this different somehow?

Re:I thought this was known? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112666)

Yeah, and thats great and all, but how about we spend more of our public resources on fixing earth rather than useless trivia like this. Like, I don't know, reversing the government spending trend. If this data (and I call it data, because it isn't useful enough to be called knowledge), were good for anything, then why doesn't the private industry seem interested in it. This type of research is just welfare for otherwise bright individuals who decided to get an ivory tower education so they could spend their lives on meaningless pursuits.

Re:I thought this was known? (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113092)

how about we spend more of our public resources on fixing earth

Earth doesn't need fixing. The problem is the stupid damn monkeys who live there.

Re:I thought this was known? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113146)

Monkey are ok, it those damn dirty hairless apes that is causing all the problem.

Re:I thought this was known? (1)

DeBaas (470886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36115504)

Monkey are ok, it those damn dirty hairless apes that is causing all the problem.

The dirty hairless apes in old T-Shirts and jeans are ok, it's the hairless apes dressed in suits that are causing all the problem

Re:I thought this was known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36114736)

I wish people like you were forced to live by the words you say. It really should be a law.

If left to your precious private sector, the very Internet you are using to bitch wouldn't exist at all, and every byte you send over the wire makes you that much more of a hypocrite, made even more ironic by the fact the 'useless research' you are bitching about is the very thing allowing you to bitch about it in the first place.

Re:I thought this was known? (1)

Sean Hederman (870482) | more than 3 years ago | (#36115220)

There was a brilliant short story by Arthur C. Clarke (I think) where the world population was in the trillions, and they were about to reach the point at which all the earth's resources were entirely dedicated to humanity. Accordingly the last zoo (comprising a couple guinea pigs and rabbits and a square meter or two of grass) was to be demolished to allow this milestone to be reached.

When we cast our eyes to the ground all we eat is dust, when we look to the heavens our feast is the stars.

Every society which has focused on their navels as the idiot above suggests has failed. Every single one. No exceptions. Only societies which explore and question and try for audacious goals succeed. By all means, encourage your politician-critters to drive your society to follow the Mayans to extinction. I'll applaud the net loss of stupidity, ignorance and cowardice.

Re:I thought this was known? (1)

bipedalhominid (1828798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36117250)

Troll much?

Re:I thought this was known? (2)

hakey (1227664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113198)

From the article: "Scientists are excited we finally understand where Io's magma is coming from and have an explanation for some of the mysterious signatures we saw in some of the Galileo's magnetic field data," Krishan Khurana, lead author of the study and former co-investigator on Galileo's magnetometer team at UCLA, said.

Uhmm... this is news, how? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112430)

It's been widely known for a long time that Io is volcanically active. I remember reading about it in a kids' astronomy book in the 1970's.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112460)

I guess maybe a refined anatomy of the planet is the news? Reading the article would ruin the mystery and guessing, though.

Io's constant ejaculations are one of the reasons Jupiter has such an immensely powerful magnetosphere. Seriously, it's ridiculous.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetosphere_of_Jupiter

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112468)

They certainly didn't know that the solid surface is floating in a more-or-less continuous magma lake in the 70's.

   

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113126)

So we shouldn't attempt any landings there either?

ALL THESE WORLDS... (0)

zawarski (1381571) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113842)

...are yours except EUROPA attempt no landing there use them together use them in peace

Re:ALL THESE WORLDS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36125540)

Thanks for explaining the joke, and also demonstrating that you don't know the meaning of the word "either".

I wondered what the origin of the stereotype about Polacks being dumb was. it's you.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112528)

Not unless it was from a really fast publisher. The volcanoes were discovered March 5th, 1979.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113174)

I don't know the publisher... nor the exact date. I do vividly remember the pictures in the book, however. They were colorful artistic renderings rather than photos, and the school I remember being in at the time would place it sometime definitely prior to 1980. If they were only just discovered in '79, then it must have been in '79 that I read that book. I really did not realize that the discovery was that recent at the time. I was just a kid who thought astronomy was cool and I liked the pictures in the book.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (3, Informative)

Meshach (578918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112596)

It's been widely known for a long time that Io is volcanically active. I remember reading about it in a kids' astronomy book in the 1970's.

People have known for a long time that Io has volcanic activity but no one new before now that Io has a sub-surface made entirely of magma.

The main theory of how the planet Earth evolved was that the land was formed from a magma sub-surface that cooled and gave us what we have today. Ergo Io may be a window into the Earth's development.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36114016)

Except that it won't ever cool down like Earth did, thanks to extreme tidal heating.

Re:Uhmm... this is news, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36116328)

Yes, volcanism has long been known on Io, as mentioned in the article. The discovery of a magma ocean is new. There is no other planetary body in the solar system that has such a feature now. Yes, that includes even the Earth, which has magma at depth in the mantle, but which is mostly solid. Temperatures beneath the crust of the Earth are high enough to melt the upper part of the mantle, but because of the high pressure those rocks remains mostly solid (>99% on average) even within the soft part, the asthenosphere [wikipedia.org] , on which the lithospheric plates [wikipedia.org] move.

The discovery of a magma ocean on Io isn't much of a surprise because it was one possible scenario for what was beneath the surface. The news is being able to confirm its existence via the magnetic field data, which required A) removing the complicated, heterogeneous effect of volcanic plumes on the atmosphere around Io, and B) getting better experimental data on the electrical properties of ultramafic [wikipedia.org] igneous melts. For that matter, even the discovery that the melts at depth in Io are ultramafic ones is a significant discovery because there was debate about other materials being possible.

Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter since 1995... (2)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112538)

...and has been in the planet's atmosphere since 2003.

That's a really interesting way of looking at it.

Re:Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter since 1995... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36115428)

I'd say

...and has been the planet's atmosphere since 2003

Serious question (2)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112652)

How many Slashdot readers don't know that Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system?

I just thought it was kinda frustrating reaching Io at the end of the description. I was hoping it was another of Jupiter's moons because I figured if it were Io, Io would've been stated.

Re:Serious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36114038)

Did you miss the headline?

Re:Serious question (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36116064)

It was; "The moon, which is named Io". It was just buried halfway through the article and introduced in the most backwards and awkward way possible.

Perhaps because this was discovered by people who are called scientists and work for the organisation that is named NASA. It could have been explained what these bodies that are called moons are, but there's only so much the person that I call I can take in at what is known as one time.

Enemy Planet. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36112870)

"Whether they ever find life there or not, I think Jupiter should be considered an enemy planet." - Jack Handy

hehehehehe (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112882)

magma

It produces 333x more lava, their data set is off (1)

io333 (574963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36112956)

I know all about this moon.

Re:It produces 333x more lava, their data set is o (1)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36118922)

Isn't this the same moon that I created??

Slow news day? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113106)

Io is the most volcanic body in the solar system. By definition, wouldn't that mean it has a volcanic sub-surface? Last time I checked, magma comes up from underground to the surface.

Re:Slow news day? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113894)

Earth has a lot of lava flowing on it, but it mostly comes from plumes, and you don't get continuous magma until thousands of miles down through the mantle.

Io could have had a lot of plumes.

Instead, it's one big plume. Or rather, nothing to make plumes differentiated from the molten mantle.

What about physics? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113118)

From the summary:

The global magma ocean about 30 to 50 kilometers (20 to 30 miles) beneath Io's surface explains the moon's activity.

All these years, I thought it was physics that explained the moons activity.

Re:What about physics? (1)

eriqk (1902450) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130662)

I've been to some of Global Magma Ocean's lectures. They were fascinating. Great storyteller.

Why is this news? (1)

Froeschle (943753) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113710)

If a body is spouting Lava from its outer surface then that's more often than not a sign that its subsurface is also hot.

how is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36113852)

why is this even a story? I have known this information since January 1979.

The two Voyager space probes made a number of important discoveries about Jupiter, its satellites, its radiation belts, and its never-before-seen planetary rings. The most surprising discovery in the Jovian system was the existence of volcanic activity on the moon Io, which had not been observed either from the ground, or by Pioneer 10 or 11.

Might as well post a story about man landing on the moon and call it news.

Re:how is this news? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36113910)

Didn't realize that the voyager spacecraft were capable of peering dozens of kilometers under the surface of Io.

He's psychic: (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36114108)

Amazing what slashdot ACs know before anyone else does. Maybe he can tell us what New Horizons will find when it gets to Pluto and save us the wait.

I think some of the people confidently commenting on this article have a geology knowledge level akin to "I think it's made of rock."

I thought it was a pretty interesting result. They'd been guessing beforehand. Now they have actual evidence of a global magma layer.

nintendo knows something we don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36114156)

everytime i hear news about Jupiter it sounds more and more like mario galaxy

Units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36114382)

"The moon, which is named Io, produces about 100 times more lava each year than all the volcanoes on Earth combined."

The mention of a fixed amount of time is inappropriate here, since rates of lava production per unit time are already being compared.

I realize that the quotation comes from the original article.

Earth like (1)

luk3Z (1009143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36115378)

I think we will live on this moon someday or something similar.

Re:Earth like (1)

eriqk (1902450) | more than 3 years ago | (#36130680)

We might, but it won't be earth-like. More like mining colonies with gruff marshals with a Scottish accent.

The real question is: (1)

Flubb (1582363) | more than 3 years ago | (#36115602)

Where is the adamantine?

Magma ocean != 100% melt (2)

mopomi (696055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36118400)

A magma ocean is not a 100% liquid rock layer beneath the surface.

The observations made by this team are consistent with a 50 km-thick layer about 50 km below the surface (that is, within the mantle) with >=20 volume% melt fraction. This work is based on how Io affects Jupiter's magnetic field.

Other research teams have demonstrated, since the 1990s that Io should have a mantle with a >= 20 volume% melt fraction at some depth in the mantle--it was never clear where this magma ocean was located. This work is based on observations of the surface eruptions and models for how quickly silicate lavas cool.

The fact that these agree is significant.

A substantial portion of Io at 100 volume% melt would actually not work because pure liquid does not dissipate enough of the energy from the tidal forces to maintain 100 volume% melt. That is there's a feedback loop between Io's interior and the tidal flexing:

* Too much liquid in the interior and the energy dissipation will decrease significantly, allowing the liquid to cool enough to solidify significantly.
* Too little liquid and the interior would quickly dissipate enough tidal energy (in the form of friction) to significantly melt the interior.

So, Io's orbital resonances keep a small part of its mantle molten at between 20 volume% and 50-70 volume.

That there's now a depth associated with this magma ocean is actually quite significant. We can start better understanding the role volatiles play in Io's volcanism now that we know where the molten rock is coming from.

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