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First Evidence Of Active Volcanoes Found On Venus


First evidence of active volcanoes found on Venus, a planet similar in size, mass, and density to Earth. Finally, geophysicist Robert Herrick of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, has caught one of Venus's volcanoes in the act, according to a study published in the journal Science and presented at the Lunar & Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

The challenge in studying Venus's surface lies in its dense atmosphere, which includes an opaque cloud layer at a height of 45-65km that blocks most radiation wavelengths, including visible light. The only way to get a clear view of the surface is by using radar from an orbiting spacecraft directed downwards, using a technique known as aperture synthesis to construct an image.

NASA's Magellan probe used this method to map Venus's surface between 1990 and 1994, revealing that over 80% of the surface is covered by lava flows. However, whether any eruptions continue today and the age of the youngest flows remained a mystery for three decades.

Hints of activity were observed through spacecraft peering into, and sometimes through, the clouds, suggesting the presence of freshly erupted lava. Thermal anomalies that could correspond to active lava flows and temporary local spikes in atmospheric sulfur dioxide concentration were also detected, but none provided clear evidence of ongoing eruptions.

The new study now provides the first evidence of active volcanoes on Venus. By comparing radar images taken at different times, the researchers found a volcanic vent on Maat Mons, one of Venus's largest volcanoes, that doubled in size between February and October 1991.

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/first-evidence-of-active-volcanoes-found-on-venus/ by Rhyley Carney on 2023-03-20T01:53:00.587Z

The vent also became shallower, indicating that it partially collapsed and was filled by fresh lava during October. The changes observed in the images could not have resulted from variations in surface slope or direction.

Most planetary scientists already suspected Venus to be volcanically active, and attention will now shift to how frequently and where eruptions occur on the planet. The discovery will be of particular interest to NASA's Veritas and ESA's EnVision missions, both approved in 2021, which will carry better imaging radar than Magellan. EnVision is set to reach Venus's orbit in 2034.

NASA's DaVinci mission, which is expected to provide optical images during its descent, is likely to arrive ahead of Veritas and EnVision, promising an exciting time for planetary exploration in the coming years.


These upcoming missions are likely to uncover more exciting discoveries about Venus and its geology. The recent discovery of active volcanoes on the planet has only added to the growing body of evidence that Venus is a more complex and dynamic planet than previously thought.

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About The Authors

Rhyley Carney

Rhyley Carney - Rhyley Carney is a New York Times bestselling author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content designer, and writing teacher/lecturer who has won five Bram Stoker Awards. More than a dozen countries have purchased her novels.

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