Galileo spacecraft returns stunning findings about Io


  • Randy Showstack


Since its insertion into orbit around Jupiter in December 1995, NASA's Galileo spacecraft has provided scientists with startling data about great thunderstorms on the planet, the origin of Jupiter's rings, possible oceans on the moons of Europa and Callisto, and the turbulent life of the moon Io, a fiery, colorfully scarred orb with more than 100 active volcanoes that makes it the most volcanically active body known in the Solar System.

During victory laps near the end of the workhorse's extended mission, Galileo recently risked radiation damage from the Jovian system for two dramatic swoops near Io. The spacecraft closely observed volcanic features there, many of which are named for mythological and cultural figures associated with heat, fire, thunder, and the underworld.