Mars’ reputation of being “the red planet” has some competition. Scientists have recently discovered what appears to be 37 recently active volcanic structures on Venus, challenging the idea that the planet is dormant.
Anna Gülcher, a geophysicist at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, led the team of scientists who examined 133 circular structures, known as coronae, and identified 37 of them as possible active volcanoes. And by active, they mean that they might have been active in the past 2 or 3 million years.
In a study published this week in Nature Geoscience, the team wrote, “Our study presents new evidence for recent tectonic and magmatic activity on the surface of Venus, complementing other indications of such activity. […] Our work shows that some of that interior heat is still able to reach the surface even today. Venus is clearly not so geologically dead or dormant as previously thought.”
Venus is a rocky planet that is about the same size as Earth, but NASA describes it as filled with clouds of sulfuric acid that cover the sunlight, with temperatures reaching up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and air pressure “high enough to flatten you like a pancake.” Add to that several dozens of active volcanoes and you’ve got a very unwelcoming spot.