In the early 1990s, NASA’s Magellan spacecraft captured data from Venus, proving that volcanoes still existed on the planet’s surface. A new analysis of the data shows that they found at least one volcano active on Venus. Future missions could prove that Venus is still alive.
The researchers published their findings in a paper featured in the journal Science. These findings show that a volcano active on Venus’ surface is still causing changes to the planet’s surface through the eruption of lava from lava vents around it. But the researchers needed to be cautious with the data that they had access. Because the data from Magellan is 30 years old, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t caused by the spacecraft itself. To judge this, they picked out a location featured in multiple data sets and then moved them so that they would be looking down upon the possibly active volcano on Venus.
This allowed them to see that the volcano vent at Maat Mons looked more circular than in another image. However, in the following image created from Magellan’s data, the researchers noticed that the vent looked more like a kidney shape. A bright spot was also identified in the data as a new, active volcano-caused lava flow, which spread across Venus’ surface.
This is an interesting discovery and will continue to give scientists more data to work with, particularly as NASA and other space agencies plan to launch missions to Venus to further explore this planet. Considering that the best images we have of Venus were captured in the 1980s, being able to learn more about Earth’s evil twin has been on scientists’ agenda for a while now.
With the success of the Artemis mission and NASA’s ongoing plans to explore the rest of our solar system more extensively, hopefully, we’ll learn more about the active volcanoes on Venus and how they helped create the planet that we now call our neighbor.
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