ESA Finds Evidence of Lava Flows on Venus

posted: 06/18/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
The planet Venus as seen in this radar image taken from the Magellan spacecraft.

Earth's next-door neighbor is teeming with hot lava flows, according to new observations from the European Space Agency.

Researchers used a camera mounted on the agency's Venus Express probe to measure heat emissions from the planet's surface.

"We have now seen several events where a spot on the surface suddenly gets much hotter, and then cools down again," says Eugene Shalygin, lead author of a new study detailing the volcanism.

"These four 'hotspots' are located in what are known from radar imagery to be tectonic rift zones, but this is the first time we have detected that they are hot and changing in temperature from day to day. It is the most tantalizing evidence yet for active volcanism."

The rift zone results from fracturing of the planet's surface caused by upwelling subterranean magma. The fractures typically serve as exit points for lava.

"Our study shows that Venus, our nearest neighbor, is still active and changing in the present day - it is an important step in our quest to understand the different evolutionary histories of Earth and Venus," adds Venus Express scientists Hakan Svedhem.

Click here for more information from the European Space Agency

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