- A new analysis of archival radar images taken around three decades ago has found direct geological evidence of recent volcanic activity on the surface of Venus.
- Scientists made the new discovery by pouring over images of Venus taken by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft between 1990 and 1992.
- During their examination, they looked at the planet’s Atla Regio area, where two of the biggest volcanoes of Venus, Ozza Mons and Maat Mons, are located.
What are the findings?
- A vent situated on the north side of a domed shield volcano that is part of the larger Maat Mons volcano that changed significantly in shape and size between February and October 1991.
- The “computer models of the vent in various configurations to test different geological-event scenarios concluded that only an eruption could have caused the change.
Significance of Findings
- The volcanoes act like windows to provide information about a planet’s interior, the new findings take scientists a step further to understand the geological conditions of not just Venus but also other exoplanets.
- An exoplanet is a planet outside our own Solar System, sometimes referred to as an extrasolar planet.
- The findings give a glimpse of what more is to come regarding Venus as in the next decade, three new Venus missions would be launched, including the European EnVision orbiter and NASA’s DAVINCI and VERITAS missions.
What is a Volcano?
- A volcano is a vent or fissure in Earth’s crust through which lava, ash, rocks, and gases erupt.
- A volcano can be active, dormant or extinct. An eruption takes place when magma (a thick flowing substance), formed when the earth’s mantle melts, rises to the surface.
- The magma is lighter than solid rock, it is able to rise through vents and fissures on the surface of the earth. After it has erupted, it is called lava.
- Not all volcanic eruptions are explosive since explosivity depends on the composition of the magma.
- When the magma is runny and thin, gases can easily escape it, in which case, the magma will flow out towards the surface and if the magma is thick and dense, gases cannot escape it, which builds up pressure inside until the gases escape in a violent explosion.
About Planet Venus
- Earth’s Twin: Venus is Earth’s closest planetary neighbour which is similar in structure but slightly smaller than Earth, it is the second planet from the sun. Therefore, Venus has been called Earth’s twin.
- Thick & Toxic Atmosphere: Venus has an atmosphere 50 times denser than Earth’s. Venus is wrapped in a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that traps in heat.
- Inhabitable: Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. The temperature of Venus is too high, and its atmosphere is highly acidic, just two of the things that would make life impossible. Surface temperatures reach a scorching 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius), hot enough to melt lead.
- Other Features: It has no moons and no rings. Venus’ solid surface is a volcanic landscape covered with extensive plains featuring high volcanic mountains and vast ridges. It spins from east to west, the opposite direction from all other planets in our solar system but the same as Uranus.