Scientists have long suspected that volcanoes played a huge role in the evolution of Venus, the second planet from the sun.
Images provided by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter are showing that volcanic eruptions may not just be a thing from the past. Scientists discovered four transient bright spots in a relatively young rift zone known as Ganiki Chasma, which was observed 36 times by the spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera. They constructed mosaics from images taken during the orbital passes and computed the relative surface brightness. They found four transient flashes, estimated to be between 526°C and 826°C – well above the planet’s normal 426°C surface temperature.
Follow-up analysis suggests the bright flashes could be lava flows stretching 25 kilometres or so, a chain of cinder cones, or a volcanic hotspot similar to what has been found on Jupiter’s moon Io.
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