Volcanoes on Venus

New evidence from old pictures has reignited the search for volcanism on Venus, but the VERITAS mission is expected to reveal the truth, says Mount Holyoke’s Darby Dyar.

New analysis of old images taken on Venus’ infamously volatile surface has provided scientists with the strongest evidence yet of volcanic life on the fiery planet. The analysis of the images, taken by the Magellan space probe in the early 1990s, are the best proof so far that the planet has a similarly scorching surface.

Darby Dyar, chair and professor of astronomy, talked to Nature, Gizmodo and Popular Science about the findings and the VERITAS mission that has been pushed back to the early 2030s from its original target launch of 2028. The delay is a blow to Dyar, who, at 65, has been working on the mission for 12 years, and the team of dedicated scientists who have devoted their countless hours to the project.

Nevertheless, Dyar remains optimistic.

“As soon as they give us money again, we’ll spin back up. It’s just a question of how fast we can do it,” she told Gizmodo.

When the next mission does go off, Dyar believes the suspected volcanism revealed by the Magellan will be verified as it will produce images with 100 times the resolution that Magellan was able to manage.

“When we get high-resolution imagery,” Dyar says, “I think that we’re going to find active volcanism all over Venus.”

Read the full stories on Nature, Gizmodo and Popular Science.

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