Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 April 4
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

New Horizons at Io
Credit: NASA, JHU/APL, SwRI - Additional Processing: Sean Walker

Explanation: Spewed from a volcano, a complex plume rises over 300 kilometers above the horizon of Jupiter's moon Io in this image from cameras onboard the New Horizons spacecraft. The volcano, Tvashtar, is marked by the bright glow (about 1 o'clock) at the moon's edge, beyond the terminator or night/day shadow line. The shadow of Io cuts across the plume itself. Also capturing stunning details on the dayside surface, the high resolution image was recorded when the spacecraft was 2.3 million kilometers from Io. Later it was combined with lower resolution color data by astro-imager Sean Walker to produce this sharp portrait of the solar system's most active moon. Outward bound at almost 23 kilometers per second, the New Horizons spacecraft should cross the orbit of Saturn in June next year, and is ultimately destined to encounter Pluto in 2015.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space

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