As new research about Venus emerges, we learn that the planet is more intriguing than previously believed.
Back in 2020, traces of the gas phosphine were discovered in Venus’s upper atmosphere. Such a finding offers enough proof of explosive volcanoes on our planetary neighbor.
Here is what you need to know.
Volcanic Activity on Venus: What to Expect
The phosphine detected on Venus is not actually revealing the biology of the planet. According to a team of scientists from Cornell University, it does tell us about geology, pointing to active explosive volcanism in the very recent past.
The team analyzed observations from the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) in northern Chile, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, a ground-based, submillimeter-wavelength telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. What they found is genuinely intriguing and made the scientists argue that signs of volcanism are the means for phosphine to get into our planetary neighbor’s upper atmosphere.
So, what scientists want to say is that if the planet possesses phosphide (a type of phosphorous present in Venus’ thick mantle) that emerges to the surface in an explosive, volcanic way, and then it ends up into the atmosphere, then something really incredible can happen.
Those phosphides could react with the Venusian atmosphere’s sulfuric acid and phosphine would resurface.
Lunine Truong, a doctoral candidate in geology and the author of the recent research, explained that the newly found phosphine model:
“[indicates] explosive volcanism occurring; […] while radar images from the Magellan spacecraft in the 1990s show some geological features could support this.”
Back in 1978, NASA developed an orbiter mission called Pioneer Venus. The scientists found variations of sulfur dioxide in Venus’ upper atmosphere, pinpointing the possibility of explosive volcanism. According to scientists back then, that was somehow similar to the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1883.
More data about Venus’ volcanic activity will be soon available as scientists will figure out more stuff.