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MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of a view over the volcanic landscape of Io, the closest major moon of Jupiter. Io orbits just 350,000 kilometres from the cloud tops of Jupiter, closer than the Moon orbits the Earth. Io is slightly larger than Earth's Moon, but Jupiter is some 318 times more massive than the Earth. Io's proximity to the enormous gas giant planet, tied with its orbital resonance with the nearby moons Europa and Ganymede, means that it experiences powerful gravitation tides during its orbit. This stretching and squeezing of rock in its interior drives active volcanism on the moon, which covers its surface in huge plumes of molten rock and lakes of lava, and there are no visible impact craters, indicating that the surface is geologically young and consantly refreshed.
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