Recent Volcanic Activity on Venus Discovered by NASA’s Magellan Spacecraft

Scientists have found direct evidence of recent volcanic activity on Earth's closest neighbor, Venus. The findings, published in the journal Science, reveal that the planet's surface is currently a turbulent place and offer insights into its geological past and future.[0]

NASA's Magellan spacecraft, which visited Venus in the 1990s, captured the images that led to the discovery.[1] After sifting through archival radar images, research professor Robert Herrick of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the search of the archival data, noticed two images of the same region taken eight months apart exhibiting telltale geological changes caused by an eruption.[2]

The awe-inspiring pictures demonstrate that over a period of eight months, a volcano's vent grew bigger and altered its form.[1] This vent was located on the north side of Maat Mons, the highest volcano on Venus.[3]

In the next decade, Venus will be a major target for space exploration with NASA’s VERITAS (or Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy) and DAVINCI (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry and Imaging) and Europe's EnVision missions.

The VERITAS mission will launch within a decade, sending an orbiter to study Venus from surface to core. Moreover, a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, Department of Geophysical Sciences, have built a new time-dependent model of Venus’s atmospheric composition to explore its history.[4]

Venus is sometimes referred to as Earth’s “sister planet[6] because they are similar in size and mass.[5] However, Venus has a dry, oxygen-poor atmosphere and today there is only trace amounts of water vapor in its thick CO2 atmosphere.[4]

Dr. Jennifer Whitten, associate deputy principal investigator of VERITAS and assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Tulane University in New Orleans, said: “Venus is an enigmatic world, and Magellan teased so many possibilities.[7] Confident that a volcanic eruption occurred on the planet only 30 years ago, this is just a glimpse of the amazing findings VERITAS will uncover.[8][6]

The discovery of recent volcanic activity on Venus marks the first time scientists have found direct evidence of such activity on the planet. It also adds to the growing evidence that volcanoes play a major role in shaping the planet's youthful surface.[9]

0. “Volcanic activity on Venus spotted in radar images, scientists say” Boise State Public Radio, 17 Mar. 2023,

1. “Nasa breakthrough finds ‘first evidence’ of volcanoes on ‘Earth’s twin’ as scientists tease ‘incredible dis…” The US Sun, 16 Mar. 2023,

2. “Scientists Spot Recent Volcanic Activity on Venus | Smart News” Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Mar. 2023,

3. “NASA finds the FIRST EVER evidence of volcano on Venus; Check shocking revelation” HT Tech, 18 Mar. 2023,

4. “Venus could have had oceans long after life started on Earth”, 10 Mar. 2023,

5. “A volcano on Venus is the newest clue about early Earth” Axios, 16 Mar. 2023,

6. “Active volcano on Venus shows it's a living planet” Science, 15 Mar. 2023,

7. “NASA spots first evidence of an active volcano on Venus – in a big pile of CD-ROMs” The Register, 16 Mar. 2023,

8. “1st evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus detected in groundbreaking study”, 16 Mar. 2023,

9. “Active volcano spotted on Venus. The planet's not dead yet.”, 16 Mar. 2023,

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