Evidence mounts for active volcanoes on Venus

illustration of volcano on venus

NOT MORDOR  Flashes of infrared light detected by the Venus Express spacecraft could be signs of active volcanoes (illustrated) on Venus.

AOES Medialab, ESA

Volcanoes might be exploding on Venus, researchers report June 17 in Geophysical Research Letters. The Venus Express spacecraft, which orbited Venus from 2006 until earlier this year, detected flashes of infrared light coming from the planet’s surface. The bursts align with a rift zone, similar to cracks around volcanoes on Earth.

Earlier sulfur dioxide spikes in the Venusian atmosphere hinted at modern-day volcanism on our neighboring planet. If lava is erupting on the surface, Venus joins Earth and Jupiter’s moon Io on the list of known volcanically active worlds in the solar system. 

Editor’s Note: This post was updated July 7, 2015, to clarify that the Venus Express spacecraft is no longer orbiting Venus.

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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