Volcano on Venus may be active, say scientists

Lava from a volcano on Venus may be flowing

Venus (Flickr)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A new study has suggested that there could be active rivers of flowing lava on Venus.

Venus is already known to have high temperatures and a suffocating pressure, and now several lava flows appear to be active from the volcano Idunn Mons, according to planetary scientist Piero D’Incecco.

Hot spots on the planet were first detected in 2006 by the Venus Express spacecraft, however it has been hard to see the surface due to thick clouds, and landers dispatched to the planet cannot linger long on the surface due to the environment.

As the Venus Express couldn't see the source of the hot spots, this data was combined with maps from the Magellan spacecraft, which orbited between 1990-1994, and computer simulations.

The German Aerospace Center Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin discovered that there are five lava flows, one at the top of the mountain, with the rest going down the sides.

Actual testing on the planet will have to wait for better spacecraft to be developed, but Nasa and the European Space Agency are considering proposals for orbiters which could visit the planet in the next decade.