Is Venus geologically active right now? Are volcanoes erupting on its surface even as you read this?
Maaaaaybe. The evidence has been growing for years now, but a new piece of research just published makes a compelling case that Venusian volcanoes have been belching out fresh lava in just the past few years.
Not "millions of years." Just "years." Wow!
We've known for some time that Venus has had an interesting past, geologically. The surface is covered in volcanoes; over 1,600 large ones have been found, more than on any other world in the solar system, and there may be a lot more smaller ones, hundreds of thousands of them! The surface is also covered in basalt, an igneous rock commonly spewed out of volcanoes. So it's clear that volcanically Venus has been jumpin' and jivin'. The question is when.
Then, just a few years ago, the peak of Idunn Mons, one of the largest Venusian volcanoes, was found to be warmer than the ground around it, implying it had magma in it. In 2010, evidence from the Venus Express mission showed that some lava flows looked relatively young (less than 2.5 million years). In 2006 Venus Express detected a ...