13 February 2007


So I saw this image of Jupiter's moon Io the other day.

It's a composite of pictures taken by the Galileo spacecraft about ten years ago.

Very pretty, I thought, but not terribly interesting. The little plume at the top is volcanic activity. But we knew about that from Voyager, in the late '70s. You may recall that this image set a record for being on the cover of at least a dozen magazines the same month:

But then it was pointed out to me that these aren't pictures of two different volcanoes on Io. They're the same one. It always shows up on pictures of Io. Near as they can tell, it spouted continuously for at least 18 years. It may still be happening now.

They're calling it the Prometheus Plume, after the titan who defied Zeus to bring fire and other crafts to humanity. How cool is that?

Science fiction writers, you've got work to do.

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