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THE SATELLITES OF JUPITER
ROBERTO BARTALI
ABSTRACT
In this project I will investigate the appearance and the motion of the satellites of
Jupiter.I decide to start \u201cfrom scratch\u201d, as my knowledge of the Jovian System were almost

cero, as for Galileo four centuries ago. My goal is the identification of each satellite in the pictures and then measure the position of each one and then, computing the orbital period to make some prediction of their positions in the near future.

The reader can learn the basics of each satellite, how to collect and organize
observational data and how to reduce data using a little of mathematics.
INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this project is the determination of the orbits of the four major satellites of Jupiter called Galilean in honor to its discoverer, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei in January 1610. As a complement, I will explain, briefly, the characteristics of them and I will also give the latest orbital data. For clarity reason I will first introduce the reader with each satellite, giving the most interesting and important physical data of it and its orbital characteristics, all complemented with some images rendering a better idea of what I am writing.

The second section of this work is the presentation of the observation and the explanation of the method used to acquire and reduce data, then the way how I get the result. Late, in the conclusion I will compare published data with my measured data and discuss the difference obtained.

Figure 1
Galilean satellites from
Earth

Figure 2
The Galilean satellites. From left to right: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto.
Galileo spacecraft images

The Jovian system is a little Solar System with Jupiter as the \u201cCentral Star\u201d and a lot of satellites as \u201cPlanets\u201d around. Due to the very small disk size of

them, as seen from Earth of about 1 arcsecond, (Figure 1), a few attention

they collect in the past three centuries. After the Pioneer 10 spacecraft images, things changed dramatically, and they are now a priority in investigation and exploration projects for the near future together with Mars.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF SATELLITES

Each of the four satellites came from the same nebula around Jupiter, but they appears as worlds completely different one from each other (Figure 2). Detailed analysis of each one reveals their common nature and it is clear that the difference are because of the interaction between themselves and Jupiter. The two inner (Io and Europa) are denser than the other two (Ganymede and Callisto) because they are basically rocky and are also the smallest. The two outermost satellites are bigger and mostly icy, so less denser.

All four are in synchronous rotation, as they present always the same \u201cFace\u201d to Jupiter, Io, Europa and Ganymede are also in resonance, that means the revolution of Io is half the period of Europa and Ganymede make a revolution in twice the time of Europa; eventually, Callisto also go in resonance some time in the future. It has to lowering its orbital period until reach a value 8 times the period of Io. Due to the resonance effect of the orbits, the tree closest Io, Europa and Ganymede, never get closer one to the other, when Europa is closer to Ganymede, Io is at the opposite side of its orbit.

The Galilean satellites form a so called \u201cregular satellite system\u201d because their orbit
are circular and placed on the equatorial plane of the planet.
Now I present almost up to date information of each one in the distance from Jupiter
order.
IOFigure 3
Global Image of IO from Galileo
Spacecraft

The nearest of the Galilean is IO. If the \u201cHell\u201d exist it is on this constant changing landscape satellite. The gravitational attraction and tidal heating it suffer from the interaction with Jupiter and the other satellites, generate a lot of energy and the heating of the interior and this is the reason for many active volcanoes, in fact this is the most active body of the solar system. The surface of IO is almost plain, because the lava flow cover quickly the possible impact craters and the effect of the enormous tides that breaks the surface every times. As Io cross the powerful magnetic field of Jupiter, a very high electric current is generated and every second there is a

flow of one ton of matter from Io to Jupiter, some of these particles then fall in Amalthea, a closer satellite. This flow of particles generate a plasma that enlarge the magnetosphere of Jupiter, it is so wide that it is visible

from Earth as a torus around the satellite. A constant electron beam of energetic level between 15 and 190 KeV maintain that cloud of ionized gas called the torus. The surface of Io is almost sulfuric, due to the volcanic activity, The ejection of lava (Figure 4) is

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violent and can reach hundreds of kilometers high and may last for weeks. From various spacecraft data, there are more than 200 calderas larger than 20 km, and many more smaller. The interior of Io is an iron core, surrounded of a silicate molten mantle and a thin silicate crust. The composition of this satellite is very similar to the Earth and the other terrestrial planets. The surface crust is composed basically of silicate lava and sulfur lava, with frosty sulfurs in places when there are not volcanic activity. The presence of an atmosphere is uncertain, if there is one, it is very thin with a pressure about one microbar or so. Only a fraction of the satellite may have some denser parts above greatest volcanoes. It seems that the atmosphere is variable with time and is directly related to volcanic activity. A very interesting fact is the presence of a Ionosphere at high altitude (up to 900 km). Previous observations and measurement fit the Ionosphere at altitudes no more than 60 km above the surface.

Figure 4
Volcanic eruption on IO
(Pillan Patera). Galileo
Spacecraft image.

TABLE 1
Io orbital and physical data (from J.P.L., NASA)
1821.3km(+/- 0.2)
Density
3.53 g/cm3 (+/- 0.006)
Mass
8.933 x 10e22 kg (+/- 1.5)
Albedo
0.6
Semi-major axis, a
421769 km
Mean distance
421600 km
Distance from Jupiter
5.905 Jr
Orbital period
1.769138 days
Eccentricity, e
0.041
Rotational period
Synchronous
Inclination, I
0.036 degree
Gravity
0.183 G
Orbital speed
17.34 km/s
Escape velocity
2.56 km/s
Temperature
135..350 K
Visual magnitude
5.0
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