Astrophile: Tour the Lava Lakes of Io
by Jacob Aron
Take a trip to Io, one of Jupiter’s many moons, and you will find pools of boiling hot lava nestled among the erupting peaks of raging volcanoes. Welcome to the Lake District from hell.
Now researchers have pored over snapshots taken by a passing space probe to make freshly detailed descriptions of three of Io’s infamous hotspots: Pillan, Wayland Patera and Loki Patera.
They found that each one has its own unique eruption style. The work not only helps flesh out our understanding of the dynamics of this malevolent moon, but could also offer a glimpse of what the early, highly volcanic Earth was like.
Io traces an oval-shaped orbit around the giant planet Jupiter, so it experiences varying gravitational forces that periodically squeeze the moon’s rocky interior. This generates so much heat that Io is the most geologically active object in the solar system…
(read more: New Scientist)
M94, Multi-ring galaxy
M94 is a complex galaxy in Canes Venatici. It has both inner and outer rings surrounding an unusually bright and active core. The blue areas in the innermost ring are areas of intense star formation. In this image, the outer ring shows hints of the very faint spiral structure seen in recent professional images.
Credit: Bruce Waddington
How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s last trip to the International Space Station in 2011 May, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above spectacular image well captures the relative sizes of the station and docked shuttle. Far below, clouds of Earth are seen above a blue sea.
Well that’s fucking cool.