A sequence of full disk Io images was taken prior to Galileo's second encounter with Ganymede. The purpose of these observations was to view all longitudes of Io and search for active volcanic plumes. The images were taken at intervals of approximately one hour corresponding to Io longitude increments of about ten degrees. Because both the spacecraft and Io were traveling around Jupiter the lighting conditions on Io (e.g. the phase of Io) changed dramatically during the sequence. These images were registered at a common scale and processed to produce a time-lapse "movie" of Io. This movie combines all of the plume monitoring frames obtained by the Solid State Imaging system aboard NASA's Galileo spacecraft.
The most prominent volcanic plume seen in this movie is Prometheus (latitude 1.6 south, longitude 153 west). The plume becomes visible as it moves into daylight, crosses the center of the disk, and is seen in profile against the dark of space at the edge of Io. This plume was first seen by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1979 and is believed to be a geyser-like eruption of sulfur dioxide snow and gas. Although details of the region around Prometheus have changed in the seventeen years since Voyager's visit, the shape and height of the plume have not changed significantly. It is possible that this geyser has been erupting nearly continuously over this time. Galileo's primary 24 month mission includes eleven orbits around Jupiter and will provide observations of Jupiter, its moons and its magnetosphere.
North is to the top of all frames. The smallest features which can be discerned range from 13 to 31 kilometers across. The images were obtained between the 2nd and the 6th of September, 1996.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is an operating division of California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
This image and other images and data received from Galileo are posted on the World Wide Web, on the Galileo mission home page at http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov. Background information and educational context for the images can be found at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/sepo Image Credit: NASA/JPL