Europe to fly mission to Venus to study its volcanoes

The European Space Agency yesterday announced that it will fly an orbiter to Venus in 2031, dubbed EnVision, to study the estimated million volcanoes on the surface of that hellish planet.

EnVision will use an infrared spectrometer to seek out hot spots on the surface that could indicate active volcanoes. It will use radar to map the surface, looking for signs of lava flows. Ultraviolet and high-resolution infrared spectrometers will then look for water vapor and sulfur dioxide emissions, to see whether smoldering volcanoes are driving cloud chemistry today.

This data will help determine exactly geologically active Venus’s volcanoes are. Several studies in the past decade using archival data (see here, here, and here) have suggested as many as 37 of those volcanoes are active, but this data remains uncertain.