On Jupiter's lo, volcanic plumes and lava flows : NASA's Juno orbiter got a second close-up this month with Io, Jupiter's third largest moon and the most volcanic world of our solar system.

The Juno spacecraft is on an extended mission to explore Jupiter's rings and moons. It's latest flyby, which complemented the mission's first close approach on Dec 30, yielded more view's of the moon's hellish landscape.

Io's violent expulsions of sulfur and additional compounds gives the moon its orange, yellow and blue hues.

The process is similar to what happens around the volcanoes of Hawaii or the geysers in Yellowstone National Park, according to Scott Bolton, a physicist at the Southwest Research Institute who leads the Juno mission.

'' That must be what Io is like - on steroids,'' he said. He added that it probably smelled like those places, too.

Released Feb 4, the most recent shots show what appears to be a double volcanic plume rising into space - something that Juno has never caught before.

Other scientists spotted new lava flows and changes to familiar features spotted in past space missions like the Galileo probe, which flew past Io in the 1990s and 2000s. [ Katrina Miller ]


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