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NASA Husble Space Telescope Comparison Images of Io Reveal
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NASA Husble Space Telescope Comparison Images of Io Reveal New Information About Surface Composition and Variability

February 5, 2005
[Upper Left]

A visible-light image of the geologically active trailing hemisphere of the Jovian moon Io, taken on March 15 1992, when Io was' 414 million miles from Earth. HST resolves features as small a:s150 miles across.

[Upper Right]

An ultraviolet light (UV) picture of the same hemisphere show's Io's surface. Regions which look bright In visible light are dark in UV. The most likely explanation is that large areas of Io are covered with a sulfur dioxide frost. Because sulfur dioxide is a strong absorber of UV radiation sulfur dioxide-rich areas are dark in the UV though they are bright in visible light.

[Bottom Right]

An image of Io taken 13 years ago by the Voyager spacecraft at a distance of approximately 250,000 miles.

[Bottom Left]

A "synthetic" Voyager Image modified to match HST's resolution, due to the fact that HST is one thousand times farther from Io then Voyager was at closest approach. A direct comparison of the visual FOC visible light image with this synthetic Voyager image shows no change in the large scale distribution of surface materials in the 13 years which have elapsed between the two observations.