The huge active volcano on Venus

Venus has an active volcano on its surface, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere that is fascinating to scientists and space enthusiasts alike. It is one of the largest volcanoes in our solar system, and its presence is due to Venus’s intense volcanic activity. This huge volcano stands out from the rest of its fellow mountains, with its ash clouds reaching as high as 120 kilometers.

In 1991, the probe Magellan NASA’s Magellan mapped the surface of Venus using radar. Mankind beheld a planet riddled with volcanoes. It was impossible to know if they were active. Scott Hensley, a NASA researcher, reviewed the images with current technology. He confirmed the existence of the huge active volcano on Venus.

This is the image of the huge active volcano on Venus.
This is the image of the huge active volcano on Venus.

Volcanic evidence

In the journal Science are the results. Earth is not the only planet in the solar system where there are active volcanoes. A volcanic fissure of about two square kilometers and a depth of 175 meters was found. When the spacecraft passed through it again eight months later, the fissure had doubled in size. It could be nothing but lava. The molten rock would have covered an area of nearly 70 square meters.

Volcanism is “the most plausible explanation,” Hensley asserts. The new eruption is in the foothills of Maat Mons, the highest volcano on Venus, which was thought to be extinct. “Our work shows new evidence. A volcanic structure formed in eight months in 1991. It is the most conclusive evidence of an eruption on the planet,” he says.

With this evidence, Venus would become the second planet in the solar system with active volcanism next to Earth. In addition to these two, there is Io, moon of Jupiter. There are hundreds of volcanoes there that spit lava fountains several kilometers high.

Image taken by the Magellan probe.
Image taken by the Magellan probe.

Return to Venus

Iván López is a planetary geologist at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid. He is an expert in Venusian geology and is a participant in the mission ExoMars of the European Space Agency. “Venus and Earth were born twins,” he explains. “They have practically the same size and the same composition. It’s possible that Venus even had water. But something happened that triggered a brutal greenhouse effect. All of us Venus experts think there are active volcanoes,” he explains.

In 2031, the United States and Europe are launching two new missions to Venus. They will study its thick atmosphere in search of life. On both missions, Veritas y EnVision, will map the planet again in search of volcanic activity. And maybe they will visit the huge active volcano on Venus again.

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