Scientists have discovered at least 37 volcanoes on the planet that have been active recently.

The surface of Venus is richly covered with volcanoes. In fact, there are more volcanoes on the surface of the planet than on any other planet in our solar system! However, it was unclear whether those volcanoes are still active today. A new study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience , now provides more clarity and states that at least some of these volcanoes have recently been heard.

Different view of Venus
“It is the first time that we can point to specific structures (on Venus, ed.) And say, ‘Look, this is not a dead volcano, but a volcano that is still active today, perhaps he is asleep, but he is not dead, “said researcher Laurent Montési. “This research changes our view of Venus greatly; from a planet that is largely inactive to one that is still moving and can feed many active volcanoes. ”

Scientists have long agreed that volcanoes have been active on Venus. We have known for a while now that Venus’ surface is considerably younger than that of, for example, Mars and Mercury, two planets that have already cooled considerably on the inside. In addition, so-called coronae are found on the surface of Venus: oval-shaped geological structures believed to arise from plumes of warm material breaking through the mantle and crust from the interior of the planet. However, it was believed that those coronae were quite old and Venus has also cooled to such an extent that geological activity in the interior of the planet has decreased significantly and the crust is so hard today that warm material still tries to penetrate the crust fail to do so.

A corona on Venus. Image: NASA / JPL / Magellan probe.

Simulations
But are those assumptions correct? Montési and colleagues decided to test them, by simulating the formation of coronae as we find it on Venus using advanced computer models. The simulations provide a very accurate picture of how the coronae originated. But more importantly, they show that relatively recently created coronae have unique characteristics and it is therefore possible to distinguish this ‘young’ coronae from the older ones. With that knowledge in his pocket, Montési and colleagues studied the coronae on Venus again. “We are able to determine that at least 37 coronae have recently been active,” said Montési.

Clusters
These active coronae are not evenly distributed over the surface of Venus. Instead, they form clumps, which can be found in a handful of locations on Venus. It indicates that there are therefore areas to be identified on Venus that are still active today. And that gives us a slightly better idea of ​​what’s going on beneath the surface of the planet.

In addition, it provides handles for future missions to Venus. This could include the EnVision mission proposed by the European space agency. An orbiter would be sent to Venus during this mission. The orbiter should include research into volcanic activity on the planet. And thanks to this new study, we have thus obtained a slightly better picture of the areas that the orbiter can best examine.

Venus

Venus is similar to Earth in many ways. The planet – which is slightly closer to the sun – is roughly the same size and has a similar structure. And now it turns out that it also has active volcanoes. But the similarities today pretty much end there. Venus has to contend with a pretty out of control greenhouse effect. The thick atmosphere traps all heat, causing the surface temperatures to reach 465 degrees Celsius. However, it is believed that it was not always like this. Many scientists think that in principle Venus was much more distant from Earth and even harbored water. If they are right, the big question is what led the planet to go in such a different direction at some point and to look so very different from Earth today. The EnVision mission may also provide more clarity on this. The orbiter would have to find out, among other things, whether Venus ever actually owned oceans. It is still unclear whether the mission will actually be carried out. Next year, the knot must be made. Should EnVision become a reality, it should be launched in 2032.

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