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New satellite will track storms on Earth and sun

(CNN) -- An environmental satellite that will monitor terrestrial and solar weather is being readied for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In addition to tracking hurricanes, thunderstorms and floods on Earth, the orbiter satellite will be the first equipped with a solar X-ray imager to detect powerful storms unleashed by the sun.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is expected to lift off on an Atlas II rocket on July 15, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which will manage the mission.

The $250 million spacecraft will serve as a backup to several other GOES satellites used to forecast weather in the United States. When it goes into service, the newest addition to the fleet will assume an added responsibility: take a full-disk image of the sun's atmosphere every minute.

By monitoring solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun, the new GOES will help space weather forecasters predict geomagnetic storms that periodically strike the Earth, leading to disruptions of communications and electrical systems on the ground and in orbit.

High and low temps on Io puzzle astronomers

(CNN) -- The poles are understandably much colder than the tropics on Earth. They receive much less sunlight. If that is the case, it seems that corresponding high and low temperatures would be found on Jupiter's moon Io, where the poles bask in much less direct sunlight than the equator, right?

Wrong. A new map of the moon reveals that it has constant nighttime temperatures across its surface, from the poles to the equator, save for hot spots associated with big volcanoes.

The temperature map, released days ago, draws from observations taken by the NASA spacecraft Galileo, which has orbited the Jupiter system since December 1995.

Temperatures on Io range from minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit to higher than 2,240 Fahrenheit in some volcanic cauldrons.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the resilient Galileo spacecraft, posted the map at:

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