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News > U.S.

NASA Mission Identifies Volcano Eruptions on Venus

  • A computer-generated image of the volcano Maat Mons.

    A computer-generated image of the volcano Maat Mons. | Photo: X/ @newsnetworks

Published 28 May 2024

Scientists used images generated by the Magellan mission, which mapped 98 percent of the surface of Venus.

On Monday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirmed that scientists have identified two volcanoes that erupted on Venus in the early 1990s.


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Managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Magellan mission mapped 98 percent of the surface of Venus from 1990 to 1992, and the images it generated remain the most detailed of Venus to date.

This latest discovery builds on the historic 2023 discovery of images from Magellan's synthetic aperture radar that revealed changes to a vent associated with the volcano Maat Mons near Venus' equator. 

The radar images proved to be the first direct evidence of a recent volcanic eruption on the planet.

By comparing Magellan radar images over time, researchers spotted changes caused by the outflow of molten rock from Venus' subsurface filling the vent's crater and spilling down the vent's slopes.

Launched in May 1989, Magellan was the first spacecraft to image the entire surface of Venus and made several discoveries about the planet. Even as it plunged into the Venusian atmosphere and burned up in 1994, it was still collecting data.

Scientists study active volcanoes to understand how a planet's interior can shape its crust, drive its evolution, and affect its habitability.

The discovery of recent volcanism on Venus provides a valuable insight to the planet's history and why it took a different evolutionary path than Earth.

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