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Galileo images offer color-coded clues about Io

volcano strip
New images of Io compiled from Galileo data show the Amirani (top) and Zal Patera regions (below)  

March 6, 2000
Web posted at: 4:46 p.m. EST (2146 GMT)

(CNN) -- NASA on Monday released two new images of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io that offer clues into the fiery planet's geological makeup, scientists said.

Each picture represent a combination of high-resolution black and white images and low-resolution color images taken at different times by the Galileo probe in as it flew past Io.

Combining the two image types helps scientists better understand the relationships between the different surface materials and the underlying geologic structures, Galileo project scientists said in a statement.

The first image, showing mountains and calderas on the surface of Io, reveals red material around the margin of a caldera that scientists say is often associated with areas where lava is erupting onto the surface.

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The images also shows broad circle of bright, white material (just to the left of center), which scientists believe may be sulfur-dioxide being deposited from the gigantic plume Amirani.

The second image, of Io's Zal Patera region, also shows red material associated with erupting lava. The edge of the caldera, or volcanic crater, is marked by black lava flows.

Scientists also are using the length of shadows revealed in the images to estimate the height of mountains on Io. For example, the mountain to the south of the caldera in the Zal Patera image has peaks up to about 4.6 kilometers (15,000 feet) high.

Also Monday, NASA released a 12-frame mosaic providing the highest resolution view ever obtained of the side of Jupiter's moon Europa that faces the giant planet.

It was captured by the camera onboard NASA's Galileo spacecraft on November 25, 1999 during the spacecraft's 25th orbit of Jupiter, NASA said in a statement.

The picture reveals numerous linear features in the center of the mosaic and toward the poles that may have formed in response to tides strong enough to fracture Europa's icy surface, NASA said.

The $1.4 billion Galileo spacecraft, now on an extended mission, has been orbiting Jupiter and studying the planet and its moons since 1995.


RELATED STORIES:
Roaming Galileo returns to heart of Jupiter system
February 1, 2000
Scientist: Jupiter radiation could mean life on Europa
January 28, 2000
Galileo returns closeups of volcanic Io
August 27, 1999

RELATED SITES:
NASA Homepage
Galileo Project Home

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