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EDT June 8, 1993 Diane Farrar Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif. (Phone: 415/604-3934) RELEASE: 93-107 EVIDENCE FOR SOLID WATER FOUND ON JUPITER'S MOON IO Scientists have found water molecules frozen in the surface ices of Jupiter's moon Io. "This is the first strong evidence of solid water on the surface of this satellite," said Dr. Farid Salama, University of California, Berkeley, who led the project at NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif. The absorption lines for water were found in the infrared spectrum of Io by scientists onboard NASA's Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO). The KAO has a unique ability to conduct infrared astronomy while flying above 99 percent of Earth's atmospheric water vapor. "We have finally seen the spectral signature of something for which we've been looking for years -- water on Io," said Dr. Jesse Bregman of Ames Research Center, who developed the spectrograph used with the KAO telescope. Io is the only body in the solar system, except Earth, known to have intense volcanic activity. The Voyager spacecraft discovered active volcanoes on Io more than a decade ago. Patches of sulfur

and sulfur dioxide frosts cover the satellite. The water ice is combined with the more abundant sulfur dioxide ice on Io's surface. Scientists know that Io's thin atmosphere consists mainly of gaseous sulfur dioxide, but they have been uncertain about the main components of its surface. Their most fundamental question concerned the basic element, hydrogen, Salama said. - more -2 "Although most of Jupiter's satellites are covered with water ice, we assumed that the 'hot', volcanically active moon Io had lost all of its original water through vaporization and escape of the gas molecules from the surface," Sandford said. Working with Salama and Bregman in detecting the solid water were Drs. Louis Allamandola, Scott Sandford, Fred Witteborn and Dale Cruikshank of Ames Research Center. Laboratory work on planetary ices done by Salama, Allamandola and Sandford in 1988 first suggested the presence of water on Io. Their studies were initially performed to explain weak bands in the spectra of Io obtained at ground-based observatories by Witteborn, Cruikshank and Bregman. "Our lab work indicated that the weak bands were due to small amounts of solid water mixed with the dominant frozen sulfur dioxide. We predicted that a stronger band could be found by telescope observations above Earth's atmospheric water vapor," Salama said. "The presence of water on Io raises important questions about the source of the hydrogen," said Cruikshank, an expert in solar system objects and among the first to identify frozen sulfur dioxide on Io. "We want to know whether volcanic vents release the hydrogen or if proton bombardment produces it within the frozen sulfur dioxide layer," he said. "Our favored picture is that the water results from volcanic

activity on Io and that some water vapor venting occurs, leading to a mixing with sulfur dioxide in the vent. When the hot gas mixture expands out of the vent it condenses into ices that fall back onto Io's cold surface," said Allamandola. "Studying the variation of water ice on Io with time and longitude would tell us if the water correlates with volcanic activity. We also need to look at the finer structural details of the new band in Io's spectrum to understand its thermal history and water concentrations," Salama said. NASA's planned next generation airborne observatory -- the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy -- would give us the higher resolution spectra we need," Witteborn said. The results are being presented today to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Berkeley, Calif., and have been submitted to the journal Icarus. This research was supported by the Space Sciences Division at Ames and the Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. - end -