The formation of dunes on Jupiter’s moon Io have been an unknown ever since the Galileo probe took pictures of them in October 1999. Scientists were puzzled by how these dunes, which look very similar to Earth’s wind-blown dunes, are able to form in the low-density atmosphere on Io.
In a recent study, researchers proposed a unique dune forming mechanism – lava-frost interaction – that may be taking place on Io. They suggest that the interaction between lava flow and sulfur dioxide frost creates a vapor dense enough to transport grains to lower density areas, collecting in the dunes we see in the Galileo probe’s pictures!
Want to learn more about the mysterious dunes of Io? Check out the links below!