Volcanoes on Venus? Here’s why this new discovery could tell us a lot
Lava was recently found on the surface of Venus. Now if the planet still has active volcanoes, we could learn a lot about the interior of it from these active sites.
Scientists recently found evidence of lava on Venus. And now, new research led by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) suggests that the lava flowing on Venus could be only a few years old.
This would make Venus the only planet apart from Earth to have active volcanoes.
Researchers re-created the atmosphere found on Venus in a lab. In doing so, they found that the planet has a mineral called olivine in abundance.
Olivine on Earth is a part of the hot liquid magma present at the centre of the earth. It has a high crystallisation temperature that makes it turn into solid, faster than other minerals present in magma. When this magma reaches the surface of the Earth through a volcanic eruption, it is called Lava.
So back to olivine: On Venus, this olivine reacts with the atmosphere, and gets coated with a layer of iron oxide minerals. You might be familiar with some of them from high school science classes - magnetite and hematite.
It only takes a few hours for these layers to be formed.
Venus Express, a spacecraft launched in November 2005 to explore Venus by the European Space Agency provided data related to volcanism on Venus. The spacecraft detected the amount of volcanism by measuring the infrared light emitted from parts of the planetary surface.
“If Venus is indeed active today, it would make a great place to visit to better understand the interiors of planets,” says Dr Justin Filiberto.
“For example, we could study how planets cool and why the Earth and Venus have active volcanism, but Mars does not. Future missions should be able to see these flows and changes in the surface and provide concrete evidence of its activity,” he added.
Venus is similar in size to the earth. It is the hottest planet, and lead melts on its surface, (lead has a melting point of 327.5 degrees Celsius) even though it’s not the closest to the sun.