Earth's dead twin shows signs of activity for the first time in history
Signs of volcanic activity have been found on the second planet from the Sun - Venus, which was thought to be dead. The discovery was made by researchers who studied data sent by NASA's Magellan spacecraft back in the early 1990s.
As noted in an article published by the scientists, the discovery is based on changes in the vent near one of the largest volcanoes on the planet - Mount Maat. As Space notes, scientists knew before that volcanoes had erupted on Venus millions of years ago, but there was no evidence that volcanic activity still existed there before.
"The place where we made the discovery is the most likely place where there should be new volcanism," said Robert Herrick, a researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.
There are more than 1,600 large volcanoes on Venus and nearly a million smaller ones.
Scientists believe that eruptions on Venus are not as catastrophic as on Earth and occur at least several times a year, shaping the planet's surface.
In pictures taken in 1991, eight months apart, scientists noticed that the volcanic vent had grown from 2 to about 4 square kilometers.
The shape of the vent also changed: in the first image it was round, and in the second - kidney-shaped with a dark interior, which, according to Herrick, indicates "a volcano erupting on the surface of Venus. He added that the dark part of the vent is probably a lava lake that fills the vent all the way to the edge.
Scientists who have studied the photo suggest that the high pressure and temperature on Venus makes the lava flow more fluid and it takes longer to flow than on Earth.
Herrick also expressed his belief that there are many more active volcanoes waiting to be discovered on Venus.
The Magellan spacecraft arrived at Venus in 1990 and took photographs from orbit for two years. During that time, the spacecraft returned to the same locations every eight months.
Although Magellan's images are 30 years old, Herrick explains that only now have scientists been able to work with the data interactively, like Google Earth, when large amounts of data are loaded into systems and then the images taken by the spacecraft can be zoomed in and out.
It is known that by the end of the decade NASA intends to launch the first of several exploring missions to Venus.
Several spacecraft will visit Earth's neighbor in the 2030s, including NASA's VERITAS and DAVINCI, as well as Europe's EnVision.
VERITAS and EnVision are expected to peer from orbit into the planet's thick atmosphere, while DAVINCI will send an atmospheric probe into the clouds of Venus.
DAVINCI is scheduled for launch in 2029, VERITAS is scheduled between 2032 and 2034, and EnVision will fly between 2035 and 2039.
Previously OBOZREVATEL also told about how and why Venus turned into Earth's hellish twin.
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