New evidence of ongoing volcanic eruptions on Venus?

New evidence of ongoing volcanic eruptions on Venus?

Harun Taziev once explained in one of his books that when he started studying geologygeologythe VolcanoesVolcanoes It was generally considered a minor phenomenon on Earth. It would contribute to changing this view of things, and we now know that it is not only fundamental on our planet as an expression of its geological dynamics with plate tectonics, but also in the solar system.

We can believe that with the departed Maurice and Katja KraftIt was brought back to the forefront two years ago with documentariesHe dreamed of admiring the volcanic eruptions on the moon Io JupiterJupiter. There is no doubt that they were thinking about the times when… VolcanoesVolcanoes Martians and Lunars were also active, and after all, we're not sure some of them wouldn't be able to return to life in their presence. eyeseyes Humanity.

We can also believe that if they were still with us they would be excited to read an article published today in Nature astronomy This strongly reinforces the belief in the existence of active volcanoes other than those found on IoIo And the earth, that VenusVenus – which is sometimes called Earth's sister due to its similar size and mass to our blue planet. Explosions may be underway, as we can be persuaded by reading about themTwitterTwitter) jobAstrophysicistAstrophysicist Stephen Kane.

In 2020, another piece of evidence in this direction was also put forward and Futura then requested the opinion of the famous planetary scientist and The world of volcanoesThe world of volcanoes From NASA Rosalie Lopez. We explained at that time that as a member of the mission GalileoGalileo Around Jupiter, she was responsible for infrared observations of the volcanic moon Io, from 1996 to 2001, and discovered 71 active volcanoes, a volcanologist record. She then joined the Cassini mission to study the geology and potential habitability of the planet in particular TitanTitan. We owe it to him Several books about volcanoesincluding an introduction by Arthur Clarke.

Interview with Rosalie Lopez, planetary scientist and volcanologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English translation should appear next. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Translations” and finally on “Translate automatically.” Select “French”. © NASA solar system

From traveling to Magellan

Here are the comments Rosalie Lopez made to us in 2020 that now seem even more relevant to us:

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It's very exciting! We now have several indications that Venus may still be volcanically active, or has recently been. But we still have no indisputable evidence of this. We will need to see a heat signature or surface change.

There were also indications that Io was volcanically active before Voyager discovered its plumes, and before Bell and others predicted its volcanism. In an article published a few weeks before the Voyager encounter. Before that, there were observations of an increaseemissionemission Thermal on Io detection SulfurSulfur. However, the hypothesis of active volcanoes on Io was considered too speculative and thus was not accepted until Voyager's discovery.

I think we are much closer to accepting active volcanic activity on Venus, but we have not yet had indisputable proof.

Hopefully a new mission will return to Venus in the not too distant future. »

A documentary about Magellan's 1990 mission. For a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English translation should appear next. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Translations” and finally on “Translate automatically.” Select “French”. © NASA

Indications of volcanic activity were then given before A resounding post in 2023Explaining that Lake washwash It may have formed on Venus 30 years ago!

But how did we actually arrive at this conclusion?

To understand this, let's also look at what Futura actually explained.

The surface of Venus as seen by the Venera and Magellan probes

It all started with radar mapping of the surface of Venus by the Magellan probe in the early 1990s, which showed that the rate of craters and many volcanic structures was very low. However, since the lunar missions ApolloApollo This made it possible to return samples of lunar soil and date them, and was able to establish a relationship between the rate of cracking of the planet’s terrain and its age, knowing that the rate of bombardment of small celestial bodies has been decreasing exponentially, or nearly so, since the birth of the planets about 4.5 billion years ago. Hence, the volcanic surface of Venus is young, perhaps a few hundred million years old at most. But perhaps much less, as some people thought at the time…

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Let us also remember that Venus was explored in the 1960s by a few American missions from the Mariner program. But these are the Russian investigations of the program VeneraVenera Which will lead to the first amazing results. Thus Venera 4 conducted the first study On site from'AtmosphereAtmosphere Venus (1967) while Venera 7 made the first landing on Venus (1970). However, it was only in the early 1980s that the first stunning images of the Venusian landscape were obtained by the Venera 13 probe.

Mons Sword Explosion and Niobe Planitia?

Let us now come to clarify the content of the article Nature astronomy. This comes from Italian researchers who analyzed archival data from the Magellan mission for its radar maps to detect surface changes. As a NASA press release explains, these changes indicate the formation of new rocks from lava flows associated with two volcanoes that erupted as the spacecraft orbited the planet in the early 1990s.

In the same press release, one of the authors of the discovery, Davide Solcanese of the Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy, who led the study, explains: “ Using these maps as a guide, our results show that Venus may be more volcanically active than previously thought. By analyzing the lava flows we observed in two places on the planet, we discovered that volcanic activity on Venus is comparable to volcanic activity on Earth. “The two sites studied are the volcano swordsword Mons in the Estella region and the western part of Niobi Planitia.

This video highlights the Sif Mons and Niobe Planitia regions on Venus, where continuous lava flows have been discovered. © IRSPS – Annunzio University

Lava flows 3 to 20 meters thick?

Planetary scientists did not reach this conclusion without thinking it over carefully. They therefore took into account the possibility that the supposed lava flows were in fact small dunes from which they formed sandsand Blown by windswinds Or even atmospheric influences that could potentially interfere with the radar signal.

To rule out the first possibility, they analyzed Magellan's altimeter data to determine the slope of the terrain and identify obstacles around which lava would flow. Why ? Here again, the explanations are provided in the NASA press release and this time by the article's co-author Who natureMarco Mastrogiuseppe from Sapienza University of Rome: “ We interpret these signals as flows along volcanic slopes or plains that can deflect around obstacles such as shield volcanoes as fluids. After ruling out other possibilities, we confirmed that our best explanation is that these are fresh lava flows. »

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Assuming that it is possible to do comparative geology by conveying what we know about it physicalphysical Because of terrestrial volcanoes on Venus, planetary scientists estimate that the thickness of the new rocks laid down averages between 3 and 20 metres. The Sword Mons eruption is thought to have produced about 30 square kilometers of rock, enough to fill at least 36,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The Niobi Planitia eruption would have produced approximately 45 square kilometers of rock, which would have filled 54,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. By comparison, the 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa in Hawaii produced a lava flow containing enough lava ThemeTheme To fill 100,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, NASA says.

From Magellan to Veritas

According to Susan Smrekar, a leading scientist in… Jet Propulsion LaboratoryJet Propulsion Laboratory The mission's principal investigator Venus emissivity, radio science, InSAR, topography, and spectroscopy (Truth, honesty)) Which should be launched at the beginning of the next decade.” These new discoveries of recent volcanic activity on Venus by our international colleagues provide compelling evidence of the kind of areas we should target with Veritas when it reaches Venus. Our spacecraft will have survey instruments to more extensively and effectively identify surface changes AccuracyAccuracy Higher than with Magellan's images “.

Veritas will also actually have a radar Opening summaryOpening summary Advanced and SpectrometerSpectrometer Near-infrared light to understand the composition of Venus' surface, while also tracking volcanic activity.

For a fairly accurate French translation, click on the white rectangle at the bottom right. The English translation should appear next. Then click on the nut to the right of the rectangle, then on “Translations” and finally on “Translate automatically.” Select “French”. © Planetary Society

We can hope that studying Venus' volcanic activity will help understand why it followed a different evolutionary path than Earth's.

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About the Author: Octávio Florencio

"Evangelista zumbi. Pensador. Criador ávido. Fanático pela internet premiado. Fanático incurável pela web."

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