Io's Sulphur Dioxide

It snows every day on Io, one of Jupiter's moons, according to Southwest Research Institute findings.


(Summer on Io. No, winter. No, summer. Never mind.)

for two hours out of every day on Io, when Jupiter eclipses the Sun and its warmth, the moon’s surface temperature plummets from the positively summery -235F to a frigid -270F. The influx of solar energy stops. And Io’s atmosphere of sulfur dioxide falters, contracts, and then snows right out of its sky. When the solar eclipse ends, sublimation of all that SO2 snow pumps up the atmosphere again. It’s a “constant cycle of collapse and repair.”

Remember that old sci-fi story, “A Pail of Air” by Fritz Leiber, where the Earth got stolen away from Sol by a dead star whizzing through, and everything froze solid and the Earth’s whole atmosphere snowed out of the sky?

Yup, the only way to survive on the surface was to find a well-insulated spot and go outside every so often for a pail of air:

Pa had sent me out to get an extra pail of air. I'd just about scooped it full and most of the warmth had leaked from my fingers when I saw the thing.

You know, at first I thought it was a young lady. Yes, a beautiful young lady's face all glowing in the dark and looking at me from the fifth floor of the opposite apartment, which hereabouts is the floor just above the white blanket of frozen air.


(From "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Lieber)

Pa handled the pail of air in a twist of cloth. Now that it was inside the Nest, you could really feel its coldness. It just seemed to suck the heat out of everything. Even the flames cringed away from it as Pa put it down close by the fire.

Yet it's that glimmery white stuff in the pail that keeps us alive. It slowly melts and vanishes and refreshes the Nest and feeds the fire...

You see, when the Earth got cold, all the water in the air froze first and made a blanket ten feet thick or so everywhere, and then down on top of that dropped the crystals of frozen air, making another white blanket sixty or seventy feet thick maybe...

Via ExtremeTech.

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