back to article Jovian moon Io loses its atmosphere every day

If you've ever resented crunching frost underfoot on a cold morning, spare a thought for Jupiter's moon Io: when it's in eclipse, the frost on the ground is a big chunk of its atmosphere. That's the conclusion of research that looked at Io's atmosphere: when it passes behind Jupiter, Io cools down from a balmy -235°F (-148°C) …

  1. hplasm Silver badge

    By Jove!

    It's cold out, Io!

  2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    That's all very well, but when will these "scientists" learn to spell sulphur correctly?

    1. tiggity Silver badge


      Was made the official spelling by IUPAC a while ago :-(

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Sulfur

        "Well, that's just like, your opinion, man..." - Sulphur FTW, and Pluto is a planet!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sulfur

            > We lost sulphur, but we got aluminium!

            Except that they then immediately proclaimed their misspelling of aluminium to be an "official acceptable alternative*" - instantly making a mockery of the entire "official spelling" sham.

            Not that the banal linguistic decrees of a clique of chemists are of any value at all anyway. There's still not (and will never be) any "f" in ancient Greek (Phi was a "ph" and is always correctly translated/transliterated as such) so that particular "IUPAC" pronouncement is simply incorrect.

            *probably in fact an "official acceptable alternate" as they're clearly barely literate... but they tried to mean alternative.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Sulfur

              From the country that invented burglarized as a replacement for burgled, anything is possible.

              (my spell checker wants to correct burglarized with burglarious which sound like a really fun robbery!)

              1. Jan 0

                Re: Sulfur

                I see a trend here. While we in the UK are busily contracting words, the US has also replaced the simple word "start" with "get go". (How long before they're talking about the "ready, get set, go"?:)

  3. DocJames

    err, subs...

    "The SO2 comes from Io's volcanoes... The resulting volcanoes... [send] SO2 plumes nearly 500 km above the planet."

    I think you'll find that Io is a moon, not a planet.

    Even Pluto's fans aren't going to argue that one.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: err, subs...


      ...and since we're being pedantic... If it "falls" it'll be "as snow", not "as frost", since snow is our analogue of frozen atmosphere crystals falling to the ground. Frost doesn't fall, it forms in situ and just sits there.

      Not that the source appears to make any reference to it falling at all, so it's probably just deposited in situ... just like frost in fact... without falling anywhere...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: err, subs...

        And while we're on the subject shouldn't the headline read 'loses its atmosphere every night'?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: err, subs...

          No.. it's every eclipse... with the period an orbit happening to correspond with the period of a day.. just as it does on our own moon... although with our moon both equate to an earth month rather than 1.7 earth days.

          1. frank ly Silver badge

            Re: err, subs...

            I love the way that the commentardiat can start from just about anywhere and then hop, skip and jump its way to the truth. The journey is just as entertaining as the destination.

            1. A. Coatsworth

              Re: err, subs...

              And in any case, it doesn't *lose* the atmosphere, does it?... it is still there, just in solid form, once the eclipse ends, the frozen SO2 becomes, erm... atmosphere-y again

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: err, subs...

            "although with our moon both equate to an earth month rather than 1.7 earth days."

            ...and since we are being pedantic, that would be a 28 day lunar month, not an earth month which may have various durations.

    2. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: I think you'll find that Io is a moon, not a planet.

      That's no moon...

  4. Yugguy

    HG Wells

    Had this happening on the moon in his First Men In The Moon story.

  5. Olius

    Sorry, can't resist.

    Uranus sends SO2 plumes nearly 500 km above the planet, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, can't resist.

      More H₂S than SO₂ - according to my observations at least.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, can't resist.

        Mercaptans, actually.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, can't resist.

        Should we send it a ship loaded with Beano?

  6. toughluck

    So what's the news here?

    A quick search for 'day length on io' got this page as the first result:

    The author quotes a 2006 book, "Io After Galileo, A New View of Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon" by Rosaly M.C. Lopes and John R. Spencer. It seems like the loss of atmosphere was known at least 10 years ago. So what's the news here?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sudden loss of atmosphere

    Like a Trump rally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sudden loss of atmosphere

      That would be "massive, localized heatwave".

    2. Jan 0

      Re: Sudden loss of atmosphere

      Well, of course, "trump" is synonymous with "fart" in my part of the UK.

  8. Terry Cloth

    Cognitive dissonance?

    Io cools down from a balmy -235 °F (-148°C) to a frigid -270°F (-168°C)

    According° to Wikipedia, SO2 boils at 14 °F (-10 °C) and freezes at -98 °F (-72 °C), in which case, at Io's referenced temperatures, it should be lying around on the ground all day. Is the difference due to the pressure, or is there an error in values, conversions, or am I missing something here?

    1. Jan 0

      Re: Cognitive dissonance?

      The difference is indeed due to the lower pressure of Io's atmosphere. Have you never seen water boil at room temperature in a partial vacuum?

  9. Alistair Silver badge

    This is just a fishing expedition

    Juno watt?

    I thunk we can cheque that hoot, on tea hay bie.

    < aluminum and sulphur in my books, but we're all confused over here since we have the USA too close, (U saving apparatchiks) and our east coaster brethren what make us great lobster. I suspect that someone wants some dark side photography to confirm this concept in situ since we have the observer in place now.>

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    So, the researchers' paper at the Journal of Geophysical Research is basically a Frost Report?

  11. Marc 25

    Not a single pun about the "Sky is falling" anywhere to be found here. Very dissapoint

  12. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Night has fallen

    With a particularly heavy thud this time.

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