Io, the innermost Galilean moon of Jupiter, is the most volcanic body of the solar system. This volcanism is responsible for a tenuous atmosphere composed mainly of S, O and SO2. This atmosphere is constantly bombarded by the plasma that co-rotates with the magnetic field of Jupiter, producing new ions and perturbing locally the magnetic field. This local perturbation is responsible for auroral emissions in the atmosphere of Jupiter, at the foot of Io’s flux tube.
The spacecraft Galileo made five flybys of Io between 1995 and 2001 at very low altitude (~100’s km) and made plasma and magnetic field measurements that reveal the complexity of Io’s interaction with Jupiter.
Past studies have tackled the modeling of this interaction using different complementary approaches, each shedding a new light on the issue but each involving some simplifications. The MHD models (Linker et al., 1998) are based on an a priori parameterization of the ionization in the atmosphere, generally assuming spherical symmetry and a single atmospheric and plasma species (representative of O and S). They ignore the important effect of the cooling of electrons as well as the multi-species composition of both the plasma and the atmosphere. The two-fluid approach (Saur et al., 1999) computes precisely the ionization and collisions in the atmosphere of Io but make the assumption of a constant magnetic field, limiting the self-consistency of the model and potentially introducing large quantitative errors.
We combine a multi-species chemistry model of the interaction that includes atomic and molecular species with a self-consistent Hall-MHD calculation of the flow and magnetic perturbation to model as self-consistently as possible the plasma variables along the different flybys of Io by the Galileo probe.