Global color and albedo variations on Io

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51 Scopus citations


Three multispectral mosaics of Io have been produced from Voyager imaging data: a global mosaic from each of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 data sets and a high-resolution mosaic of the region surrounding the volcano Ra Patera. The mosaics are maps of normal albedo and color in accurate geometric map formats. Io's photometric behavior, mapped with a two-image technique, is spatially variable, especially in the bright white areas. The disk-integrated color and albedo of the satellite have been remarkably constant over recent decades, despite the volcanic activity and the many differences between Voyager 1 and 2 images (acquired just 4 months apart). This constancy is most likely due to the consistent occurrence of large Pele-type plumes with relatively dark, red deposits in the region from long 240 to 360°. A transient brightening southeast of Pele during the Voyager 1 encounter was probably due to real changes in surface and/or atmospheric materials, rather than to photometric behavior. The intrinsic spectral variability of Io, as seen in a series of two-dimensional histograms of the multispectral mosaics, consists of continuous variation among three major spectral end members. The data were mapped into five spectral units to compare them with laboratory measurements of candidate surface materials and to show the planimetric distributions. Unit 1 is best fit by the spectral reflectance of ordinary elemental sulfur, and it is closely associated with the Peletype plume deposits. Unit 2 is strongly confined to the polar caps above about latitude ±50°, but its composition is unknown. Unit 5 is probably SO2 with relatively minor contamination; it is concentrated in the equatorial region and near the long-lived Prometheus-type plumes. Units 3 and 4 are gradational between units 1 and 5. In addition to SO2 and elemental sulfur, other plausible components of the surface are polysulfur oxides, FeCl2, Na2S, and NaHS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-426
Number of pages42
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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