Indicators on Venus crust tell stories of a very active past. And, possibly right now even, heat signatures, appearing and disappearing for a few days at a time, seem to indicate that earth's nearest neighbor is still roiling inside.
Researchers waded through research data and images collected by the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission, specifically the Venus Monitoring Camera installed on the probe. The findings were published online in Geophysical Research Letters.
The international team of researchers were able to present compelling evidence that indicates the Venus is still volcanically active, which ultimately makes the planet internally active, stated James W. Head, a Brown University geologist and co-author of the paper generated by the research.
"This is a major finding that helps us understand the evolution of planets like our own," said Head.
When examining images snapped form the Venus Monitoring Camera, the researchers noticed hotspot that were several hundred degrees in temperature and varied from about half a mile squared to 125 square miles in size.
They spotted the spikes in temperature near a region of Venus called Ganiki Chasma, which, like other rift zones, was formed by the internal stresses and causes the stretching of the planet's crust. Magma may may seep, or spray, through such rifts.
"We knew that Ganiki Chasma was the result of volcanism that had occurred fairly recently in geological terms, but we didn't know if it formed yesterday or was a billion years old," said Head. "The active anomalies detected by Venus Express fall exactly where we had mapped these relatively young deposits and suggest ongoing activity."
Head had studied the Ganiki Chasma region previously, as he Mikhail Ivanov, a colleague, mapped the region and other parts of the planet, using data obtained from Soviet missions in the 1980s and US missions in the 1990s.
Back then, Head and Ivanov though the Ganiki Chasma was relatively young. These latest findings evidence the youth of the area.
"This discovery fits nicely with the emerging picture of very recent activity in Venus' geologic history," said Head. "These remarkable findings were the result of collaborations spanning many years and many political borders. They underscore the importance of international collaboration in exploring our solar system and understanding how it evolves."