Mysterious dunes on Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io may be formed by lava

Jupiter’s super-volcanic moon boasts grand, meandering dunes created not by wind but by lava flows beneath the moon’s surface, a new study shows.

Io is Jupiter‘s third-largest moon and the innermost of the four large Galilean satellites. It has an icy, yet rolling surface, which has long perplexed scientists. However, using data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, scientists have now developed a new explanation of how such dunes may form. The 14-year mission, which explored the Jupiter system from 1995 to 2003, provided images necessary to create the first detailed maps of Jupiter’s moonswhich the research team used to better understand the physical processes controlling grain motion on Io.

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