NASA detects an active volcano on Venus

a close up of a rock formation with a lot of rocks in the background

Astronomers have discovered the first evidence of an active volcano on Venus, using computer images captured more than 30 years ago by a NASA spacecraft.

Scientists have, for the first time, observed geological evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus, one of Earth’s great neighbors. The discovery was made after a fairly thorough examination of radar images captured by NASA ‘s Magellan mission in the 1990s.

Launched in May 1989, this probe became the first of its kind to image almost the entire surface of Venus (about 98%) using radar. 

The spacecraft is long gone since it crashed into the planet in 1994, but roughly 1,200GB of data—more than all of NASA’s previous planetary missions combined —was transmitted before impact, and that information is proving useful to this day. from today. You just have to see the pictures.

Volcano on Venus

All this stems from the curiosity of researchers currently participating in NASA’s VERITAS mission. It will study Venus from crust to core and collect data to reveal how this planet is related to Earth. This will be the first NASA spacecraft to explore Venus in more than three decades.

An active volcano on Venus

With this in mind, the researchers decided to delve into what this new planet has in store for them, in the process finding a CD-ROM containing data files taken from Magellan to study the planet’s volcanic activity.

The region now identified was long thought to be volcanically active, but there was no clear evidence of recent activity. While examining radar imagery, he identified a volcanic vent associated with Maat Mons that changed significantly between February and October 1991.

Volcano on Venus
Volcano on Venus

Apart from the VERITAS mission , those studies will be complemented by EnVision, an ESA (European Space Agency) mission to Venus scheduled to launch in the early 2030s. The spacecraft to be sent into space will carry its own aperture radar synthetic (called VenSAR).

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