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This is an image of the surface of Io.
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NASA

Can there be Life in the Environment of Io?

In spite of the fact that Io has an atmosphere, the environment of Io seems pretty unfriendly toward life as we know it on earth.

Io is very small, so there is not much gravity. For this reason, the atmosphere of Io is constantly drifting away. If it were not for the volcanic eruptions, there would be no atmosphere at all.

Io is inside the enormously powerful magnetosphere of Jupiter. With very little atmosphere, there is little protection from the radiation of the charged particles of the magnetosphere.

With little atmosphere, there is no buffer between the surface and space itself. This means that the temperature above the surface is very cold. On the other hand, with all the volcanic activity, the surface of Io is frequently molten, therefore the surface itself is sometimes super-hot!

All together these things add up to a very hostile environment for life as we know it.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA