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Hellscape Venus

Venus Is Even More of a Hellscape Than We Imagined – Yahoo! Voices

  • Venus may be dotted with active volcanoes, new research claims.
  • Planetary scientists used old Venus mission data to create a series of computer simulations of Venetian volcanoes.
  • NASA is already pondering new missions to Venus; these findings could inspire Venus fever.

    Venus is a strange, enchanting place. The rocky planet is often referred to as Earth’s twin, because they’re about the same size and have roughly the same mass. But there are some remarkable differences.

    For starters, Venus is choked with a toxic atmosphere. Its surface can reach temperatures of up to 880 degrees Fahrenheit. And because it doesn’t have plate tectonics like Earth does, scientists have long wondered whether the planet was geologically active at all.

    But now, astronomers have spotted strange, ring-like features on Venus’s surface—dubbed “coronae” after the the Latin word for crown—which indicates the planet could be more active than previously thought.

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    “People have suggested that Venus is volcanically active before,” Anna Gülcher of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, told New Scientist. “What we have done that is new is to map out these regions and correlate them to these specific sites.”

    The scientists created a series of computer simulations that mapped out exactly how Venusian volcanoes would work, and what they might look like. They compared the data from these simulations to data collected during the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission and NASA’s Magellan mission.

    The imagery collected during these missions featured several sites that matched what the computer simulations showed. In total, the scientists identified 37 potentially active volcanic edifices in the Magellan data, collected between 1990 and 1994. Many were located around Venus’s equator, which suggests the planet could have its very own “Ring of Fire” and a toasty, warm interior. The team’s findings appear in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    The researchers suspect these strange features form similarly to some of the volcanoes found here on Earth. Molten magma likely creeps up from planet’s warm mantle, kind of like hotspot volcanoes that pop up in places like Hawaii and Yellowstone. And these things are massive; the average size of each corona is approximately 186 miles wide. That’s more than twice the size of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth.

    There’s a lot the team still doesn’t know—like how recently the volcanic coronae have been active. “It could be today or a couple million years ago,” coauthor and geologist Laurent G.J. Montesi, of the University of Maryland at College Park, told CNN. The best way to answer these pressing questions and find out exactly what’s happening on Venus’s surface is to send a spacecraft there.

    So it’s a good thing that back in February, NASA announced it had selected four possible Discovery missions to explore the distant reaches of the solar system. Two of them, the DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy), are designed to study Venus. If these missions are selected, they could help shed light on the planet’s curious coronae.

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    Active Venus

    Active Venus volcanoes make super hot planet even more unwelcoming – CNET

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    Maat Mons on the surface of Venus could be an active volcano.


    NASA/JPL-Caltech

    We’ve known for some time now that our neighbor Venus is hell off-Earth, but new research suggests it’s even worse than we thought. 

    In addition to its toxic atmosphere and lead-melting (literally) temperatures, the second planet from the sun looks to be home to at least a few dozen active volcanoes belching up brimstone to add to the ambience. 

    “This is the first time we are able to point to specific structures and say, ‘Look, this is not an ancient volcano but one that is active today, dormant perhaps, but not dead,'” said Laurent Montési, geology professor at the University of Maryland, in a release. “This study significantly changes the view of Venus from a mostly inactive planet to one whose interior is still churning and can feed many active volcanoes.”

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    Montési is co-author of a new paper published Monday in Nature Geoscience identifying 37 “recently active volcanic structures” on Venus.

    Perhaps ironically, geologically-active planets with hot interiors tend to be better candidates for habitability, because a molten core can also power a magnetic field to deflect sterilizing radiation from the sun and space. 

    Venus, being the forsaken place it is, is the rare active planet that doesn’t generate its own magnetic field internally. This planet is really about as inviting as a mouthful of razor wire.

    Scientists have known there is evidence of volcanic activity on Venus for a while, but it was thought it was probably the remnants of ancient activity. 


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    Montési and colleagues used 3D models of Venusian sub-surface activity to look at the features on the surface of the planet in a new way, helping them to identify potentially active hotspots. 

    The team hopes future missions to Venus could get a better look at its eruptive nature. It may be a while, though, as many space programs are aiming for Mars right now

    However, the BepiColombo spacecraft bound for Mercury will make a pair of flybys past Venus over the next 13 months. So maybe we’ll get more familiar with the worst place in the solar system soon enough.

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    Earth Venus

    See Earth and Venus from Mars in amazing photos from NASA’s Curiosity rover – Space.com

    NASA’s Curiosity rover took a break from assessing ancient Martian habitability to gaze up at the Red Planet sky — where it found Earth.

    Through the dusty Martian atmosphere, the car-size rover spotted its home planet and Venus about 75 minutes after local sunset on June 5, 2020, the 2,784th sol (Martian day) of Curiosity’s mission. (The rover landed on Aug. 5, 2012.)

    “A two-image twilight panorama reveals Earth in one frame and Venus in the other,” officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which manages Curiosity’s mission, said in a statement. “Both planets appear as mere pinpoints of light, owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air. They would normally look like very bright stars.”

    Related: Amazing Mars photos by NASA’s Curiosity rover (latest images) 

    Two images of the night sky were combined to show Earth and Venus as seen by the Mast Camera aboard NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on June 5, 2src2src, the 2,784th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Both planets appear as mere pinpoints of light owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air; they would normally look like bright stars. A feature called Tower Butte is just visible at the bottom of the image, part of the clay-bearing region that Curiosity has been exploring since early 2src19.

    Two images of the night sky were combined to show Earth and Venus as seen by the Mast Camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on June 5, 2020, the 2,784th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Both planets appear as mere pinpoints of light owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air; they would normally look like bright stars.  A feature called Tower Butte is just visible at the bottom of the image, part of the clay-bearing region that Curiosity has been exploring since early 2019. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    To capture the new images, Curiosity used the same instrument it commonly employs to take Martian panoramas, the Mast Camera or Mastcam. And planet-spotting wasn’t the only goal of this skywatching session: mission team members also wanted to look at the Martian twilight brightness. 

    On Mars, the planet’s southern hemisphere (where Curiosity is situated, slightly below the equator in a big crater named Gale) is in late spring. The Red Planet takes about 687 Earth days to circle the sun once; a typical day on Mars is about 37 minutes longer than on Earth.

    Two images of the night sky were combined to show Earth and Venus as seen by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on June 5, 2src2src, the mission's 2,784th Martian day, or sol. The planets appear as pinpoints of light owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air. Mars' Tower Butte is visible at bottom.

    Two images of the night sky were combined to show Earth and Venus as seen by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on June 5, 2020, the mission’s 2,784th Martian day, or sol. The planets appear as pinpoints of light owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air. Mars’ Tower Butte is visible at bottom. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    During the late Martian spring, there is quite a bit of dust suspended in the air. The particles reflect sunlight, brightening the atmosphere and making it harder to spot objects in the sky, said Mastcam co-investigator Mark Lemmon, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Colorado.

    “Even moderately bright stars were not visible when this image of Venus was taken,” Lemmon said in the same statement. “Earth also has bright twilights after some large volcanic eruptions.”

    Just visible at the bottom of the images is a rock feature nicknamed Tower Butte. Curiosity is slowly climbing the slopes of Mount Sharp (also known as Aeolis Mons), which rises from Gale’s center, on a quest to understand how water may have shaped habitable environments on Mars more generally. 

    NASA’s next Mars rover, Perseverance, is expected to touch down inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021, to probe ancient habitability in more detail and cache the most promising samples for a future Martian sample return mission. Perseverance’s launch window opens on July 20.

    Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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