Galileo imaging of SO2 frosts on Io


  • P. Geissler,

  • A. McEwen,

  • C. Phillips,

  • D. Simonelli,

  • R. M. C. Lopes,

  • S. Douté


Io's visible appearance changes dramatically with solar phase angle. The polar regions and some plume deposits near active volcanic centers become comparatively bright with increasing phase angle, while the equatorial band grows relatively dark. We suggest that the areas of Io that appear unusually bright at high phase are covered by thin frosts of SO2 that are transparent under normal illumination. A global disk-resolved photometric analysis indicates that the frosts exhibit more nearly isotropic or forwardscattering behavior and less opposition brightening than average Ionian materials. Comparison with Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) results suggests that these frosts have relatively strong 4.1 μm absorptions indicative of fine-grained SO2.