Volcanic activity continues on Venus

(ORDO NEWS) — Volcanic activity is likely to continue on Venus, according to a new study. If this is true, in the foreseeable future, questions regarding the influence of volcanoes on the evolution of planets and the origin of life may become clear. The reason was the strange behavior of the Dunn Mons volcano, and future missions to the planet may solve this issue once and for all.

It has long been known that there are many volcanoes on the surface of Venus. But due to its dense and hazy atmosphere, it is impossible to say for sure if they are erupting today. After analyzing the archival data of old orbital missions and the results of experiments carried out on Earth, scientists came to the conclusion that the Dunn Mons volcano, 2.4 km high and 200 km wide, has remained active over the past several thousand years – it may still be erupting today. In the next 10 years, several missions will go to Venus, which may confirm the guess.

As Justin Filiberto, head of Astromaterials Research (ARES) at NASA and co-author of the study published last month in The Planetary Science Journal, it is unlikely that “anyone would be surprised if they get to Venus and find evidence of volcanic activity.” … Confirming this hypothesis will have serious consequences.

Venus once had oceans of water, but today it is an arid planet with a high concentration of acids in the atmosphere and hot enough to melt lead. It is believed that the reason for this is the grandiose volcanic eruptions, which led to irreversible climate change. And if you study these mechanisms, you can understand whether such an Armageddon is possible on Earth.

There is no direct evidence of volcanic activity on Venus, but there are indirect ones. For example, if volcanoes are still active, this explains the high concentration of sulfur dioxide, a characteristic volcanic gas. The Venera Express spacecraft, which orbited the planet from 2006 to 2014, detected lava flows everywhere, including Dunn Mons, glowing in the infrared.

The planet’s aggressive atmosphere quickly eats away at volcanic materials, reducing the brightness of their infrared glow. And in the course of recent experiments conducted on Earth, it turned out that such deposits arose no more than a thousand years ago. And the movement of winds in the Dunn Mons area is distorted more than one would expect based on the topography of the object – turbulence over the volcano can be intensified due to heat from molten rocks.

Scientists’ hypotheses can be confirmed during future missions to Venus, including the American VERITAS and DAVINCI +. The modern VERITAS radar system will be able to accurately identify fresh lava. The device will make several flights over areas that were mapped with the Magellan device in the nineties, and if there is a lava flow on them, which did not exist then, VERITAS will detect it. The infrared camera of the device will also play a role.

As part of the DAVINCI + mission, a probe will be dropped into the atmosphere of Venus, which will record its chemical composition. Scientists will be able to detect bursts in volcanic gas concentrations that indicate recent eruptions, if any. For many, confirmation of the volcanic activity of Venus is more of a formality – they are much more interested in the nature of this activity: will the planet turn out to be more like Earth, where dozens of eruptions occur every day, or like Mars in a “volcanic coma”.


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