Scientists have created a global geologic map of Jupiter’s moon Io, the most volcanically
active object in the solar system. The map, which was published this week by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), shines a light on Io, the fourth-largest satellite in the solar system. Scientists hope the new tool will help them better understand the exotic moon. According to David Crown, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. this new map of Io’s geology provides for the first time a detailed record of the different types of landforms and deposits that form the surface and presents a global context that is important for understanding Io’s internal evolution and volcanic processes, as well as for targeting future observations of Io. Knowledge of Io’s volcanic activity derived from geologic mapping is an important contribution to understanding of the nature and diversity of volcanism in our solar system. Io was discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. It’s the innermost of Jupiter’s four large moons and is tugged on hard by the huge planet, as well as its sister satellites Europa and Ganymede. These varied gravitational pulls cause massive flexing of Io’s surface and interior, generating tremendous heat that is relieved via volcanism. That volcanism is frequent and intense, resulting in a surface unlike any other in the solar system.The detailed and colorful map reveals a number of volcanic features, including volcanic domes and depressions, lava flow fields, mountains, plume deposits and sulfur-rich plains.The new geologic map combines imagery taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 missions as well as the space agency’s Galileo orbiter, which studied Jupiter and its moons from 1995 to 2003.