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The month of August in the previous year had been very disturbing for ‘Io’, one of the four moons of the biggest planet Jupiter as new findings suggest that it was rocked by three massive volcanoes consecutively within a two-week period.
The new report has surprised the NASA astronomers as the high volcanic activity is considered to be infrequent for the Jupiter’s satellite. Scientists say such eruptions occur approximately once in every one or two years. Notably, Io had witnessed just 13 giant volcanic eruptions between 1978 and 2006.
According to the NASA research papers, out of the three eruptions, the most powerful volcanic activity on Jupiter’s satellite occurred on August 29, 2013. The rest of the two events occurred on August 15, 2013.
NASA says the strongest volcano released a ‘curtain of fire’ on August 29 and spewed hot lava into the space.
Volcanologist Ashley Davies, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (California), said, “These new events are in a relatively rare class of eruptions on the satellite ‘Io’ because of their size and astonishingly high thermal emission.”
“The amount of energy being emitted by these eruptions implies lava fountains gushing out of fissures at a very large volume per second, forming lava flows that quickly spread over the surface of Io, “Davies said in a press release.
Jupiter has four large Galilean moons, namely Europa, lo, Ganymede and Callisto.
According to the scientists, the latest findings on the Jupiter’s moon will help them better understand Io. Also the astronomers believe that the observations can give strong clues about the volcanic activity on other planets of the solar system including the Earth and Venus.
It would be interesting to know that IO is the only planet other than our Earth in the Solar system that witnesses volcanic eruptions. Scientists say due to its low gravity the lava and debris coming out of the volcanoes on IO takes shape of an umbrella-like structure, rising high into space.
The details of the research are published in the journal Icarus.