Relationship between Jovian hectometric attenuation lanes and Io volcanic activity


  • J. D. Menietti,

  • D. A. Gurnett,

  • J. R. Spencer,

  • J. A. Stansberry


Within the Galileo plasma wave instrument data a narrow (in frequency) attenuation band is seen in the hectometric (HOM) emission that varies in frequency with system III longitude. This attenuation lane is believed to be the result of near-grazing incidence or coherent scattering of radio emission near the outer edge of the Io torus, i.e., when the ray path is nearly tangent to an L shell containing the Io flux tube [Gurnett et al., 1998]. Such a process should, therefore, be enhanced when the Io volcanic activity is increased and the Io flux tube has enhanced density. We have performed a systematic study of the existing Galileo radio emission data in an effort to determine the phenomenology and frequency of occurrence of the attenuation lanes and the association, if any, with published volcanic activity of Io. Our results indicate that the attenuation lanes are present almost all of the time but are enhanced on occasion. The best examples of attenuation lanes occur when Galileo is within ∼65 RJ of Jupiter and thus are probably more apparent because of the increased signal-to-noise ratio of the radio receivers. The lack of continuous monitoring of Io activity and the lack of known activity on the anti-Earthward side of Io are problematic and make detailed correlation with radio emission very difficult at this time. Nevertheless, if the data are displayed for periods when the spacecraft is within 65 RJ (i.e., for each perijove pass), then the highest-contrast lanes occur on most passes when the Io volcanic activity is also high for that pass. These results support our current understanding of attenuation lane formation and suggest that future efforts can be made to better understand the interaction of HOM emission with the Io flux tube.