Scientists have long sought out data to support the belief that Venus is volcanically alive. The planet’s unique atmosphere has made this quest challenging, as noxious clouds prevent visibility and the dangerously hot surface means any spacecraft that touches down can survive there for two hours maximum. Many did not expect to find this evidence until 2030 when two cutting edge spacecrafts—NASA’s VERITAS and the European Space Agency’s EnVision—are set to touch down, but new findings from NASA’s 1991 Magellan spacecraft have provided a surprising breakthrough. “Recorded memories” from the spacecraft show a vent on Venus changing shape, expanding and overflowing with molten rock. This discovery suggests that the planet’s pre-existing and vast bodies of water were vaporized long ago by apocalyptic eruptions caused by changes in climate. As Earth’s “twin” planet, the findings will help inform scientists’ understanding of the fates of both worlds. Learn more at National Geographic.
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL