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NASA’s spacecraft videos eruption on Jupiter’s Io (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Published time: March 08, 2014 16:06
Edited time: March 10, 2014 19:15

A NASA spacecraft sees a volcanic explosion on Jupiter’s third-largest moon (Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) (Video courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics)

Incredible footage of an eruption on Io, Jupiter’s third moon, considered the most volcanic place in the solar system, has been released by the US space agency.

The video, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, pictures a drama that unfolded more than 6.2 million km away from Earth back in 2007. NASA only made it public on Tuesday.

Some 400 active volcanoes are situated on Io and they produce plumes as high as 500 kilometers above Io’s surface. The latest eruption captured by the spacecraft saw plumes over 300 kilometers in height, according to NASA’s website.

The reason for the extreme volcanic activity on Io is that it’s “locked in a perpetual tug of war between the imposing gravity of Jupiter and the smaller, consistent pulls of its neighboring moons,” NASA explains.

As a result, Io’s orbit is distorted and it stretches. This causes friction and intense heat inside the moon, which in turn triggers eruptions across its surface.

Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. At 2,263 miles in diameter, it is slightly larger than Earth’s moon (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Collapsed volcanoes form large, dark spots on Io’s surface (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Lava spills onto the surface of Io during a volcanic eruption (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

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