The space probe "Venus Express" takes pictures of the planet in the infrared range. Image: ESA - AOES Medialab
Read out Oceans, vast continents, volcanoes and lava flows: The surface of the planet Venus could have looked similar millions of years ago as the earth today. This is confirmed by infrared images taken by the Venus Express spacecraft, which give a clue to the history of the neighboring planet's formation, which envelops itself in a cloud cover that is impenetrable to human eyes. A now created by the infrared data map of the southern hemisphere of the planet can now close to the once earth-like face of the neighbors. Because of the impenetrable cloud cover, the surface of Venus was for a long time a completely unknown terrain for astronomers. Only with the landing of space probes and the first radar images, which were taken in orbits around the planet, the face of the celestial body showed up gradually. The greatest detail is provided by the ESA space probe "Venus Express", which has been orbiting the planet since 2006 and is equipped with infrared instruments that allow a view through the cloud cover. The data collected in the numerous overflights now allow detailed mapping of the planet.

Thus, the new data confirmed the supposition that the plateaus on the planet are the remnants of continents once surrounded by oceans and created by volcanic and tectonic activities. Spectral data collected during the night overflights of "Venus Express" indicated that the rocks are made of granite. This rock is formed by very slow solidification of magma in the depth and is brought to the surface by tectonic processes and volcanic activity. If there really is granite on Venus, there must also have been plate tectonics on the planet, explains Nils Müller of the University of Münster, one of the scientists involved in the mapping. The genesis of this rock also suggests that also oceans and volcanoes dominated the surface of Venus.

The water has now disappeared on the very hot planet with surface temperatures of over four hundred degrees Celsius. Whether there are remains of volcanoes on the celestial body is still open. So far, however, the infrared data from "Venus Express" have only revealed fluctuations in the surface temperature of three to twenty degrees Celsius, which does not suggest currently active volcanoes. But some regions of the planet seem to be covered by dark rocks, which could be the solidified remains of recent lava flows.

Communication of the ESA ddp / Ulrich Dewald ad


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