New Evidence for Active Volcanos on Venus

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    Paul G. Abel

    Hi all!

    There was news yesterday about new evidence of active volcanoes on Venus. I have written a short news item which hopefully will make it on to the BAA website at some point. Here’s the text:

    Scientists believe they have found direct evidence of ongoing volcanism on the surface of Venus. Remarkably, the discovery was made by examining data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft which is nearly 30 years old.[1]
    Professor Robert Herrick of the University of Alaska Fairbanks led the search of this archived data and spent more the 200 hours examining it- this work involved comparing images during successive Magellan sweeps of the planet in order to check for any changes. The main discovery is a volcanic vent which appeared to change shape over two months and increased in size in less than a year- this suggests the eruption of lava beneath the volcanic vent. NASA’s proposed VERITAS mission will examine Venus to look for ongoing volcanic activity.
    The BAA Mercury and Venus Section has also been actively engaged in search for active volcanism on the planet. In 2019 former Director, Dr Richard McKim published a paper in the Journal [2] which contained observations by Anthony Wesley and Philip Miles showing hot spots taken on the night side of the planet using a 1000-1020 narrowband IR filter. These spots seem to be absent in recent observations of the same region, and suggest to the author that they may well be the result of active volcanoes.
    Another phenomenon observed by Section members recently is the cloud discontinuity- a vast linear cloud feature extending north to south across the planets equator. Both Richard and myself reported on recent observations of this remarkable phenomenon- this can be found in the latest issue of the journal [3]. One explanation for it could be the upwelling of hot air caused by active volcanism
    Venus is currently in the evening sky and now well placed for observation. I would encourage you all to make regular observations of this planet so that we can try to obtain more observational evidence of active volcanoes – both images and drawing welcome! The Mercury and Venus Section meeting is being held at Winchester this year- clearly there will be much to discuss!

    [1]. NASA website:
    [2]. ‘The eastern and western elongations of Venus 2001-’17 Part II The Nocturnal hemisphere’, McKim R.J., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc, Vol 129, No 3, June 2019
    [3]. ‘Observations of another Venusian atmospheric discontinuity, 2022 May to September’, McKim R.J., Abel P.G., J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., Vol 133, Number 1, February 2023.
    [4]. Winchester weekend:

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