In the early 1990s, NASA’s Magellan spacecraft captured data from Venus, proving that volcanoes still existed on the planet’s surface. Now, a new look at that data says they have spotted at least one active volcano on Venus, and that future missions to the planet could provide even more proof that Venus isn’t dead yet.
The researchers published their findings in a paper featured in the journal Science. According to those findings, an active volcano on the surface of Venus is still changing the planet’s surface by pouring out lava through lava vents located around it.
But the researchers had to be careful with the data they were working with. 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.
By doing this, they discovered that a volcano vent near Maat Mons appeared more circular in one image. However, in the following image created from Magellan’s data, the researchers noticed that the vent looked more like a kidney shape. Additionally, a bright spot in the data appeared to be a new lava flow created by the active volcano, spreading across the surface of Venus.
It’s an intriguing discovery that continues to provide more data for scientists to dig into, especially as NASA and others plan future Venus-based space missions to explore the planet in more detail. 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.