It’s Alive? Active Volcanoes on Venus: Smoking Gun Evidence Possibly Found

December 3rd, 2012

Artist’s impression of an active volcano on Venus. Results from a long-term study of Venus find evidence of a clear injection of sulphur dioxide into its upper atmosphere. One possible interpretation is that volcanic activity increased the sulphur dioxide component of the upper atmosphere, although an alternative is that a change in atmospheric circulation dredged up the gas. Credits: ESA/AOES

The hellish world we know as Venus may sport active volcanoes.

Thanks to six years of observations by the European Space Agency’s Venus Express, the orbiter appears to have recorded large changes in the sulphur dioxide content of within that planet’s atmosphere.

And according to ESA scientists, one intriguing possible explanation is volcanic eruptions.

The Venus Express data adds, quite literally, more fuel to the fire!

It is already known that Venus is covered in hundreds of volcanoes.

Earlier data suggests volcanic activity has been present in the planet’s recent past. But that’s within the last few hundreds of thousands to millions of years.

“By following clues left by trace gases in the atmosphere, we are uncovering the way Venus works, which could point us to the smoking gun of active volcanism,” adds Håkan Svedhem, ESA’s Project Scientist for Venus Express.

By Leonard David

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