Venus has long been known for having a lot of volcanoes — but not many.
New maps of the fiery planet, with a surface temperature of about 450 degrees Celsius (842 degrees Fahrenheit), show some 85,000 planets scattered across its landscape.
This is almost 50 times higher than past survey statistics.
Published alongside the study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the massive map was created using radar images taken by NASA’s Magellan spacecraft.
Previous studies have found evidence of volcanic activity on Venus, but the work by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis marks the first time Magellan’s findings have been translated into such an extensive map.
Co-author Paul Byrne said it was “the most comprehensive map of all volcanic structures on Venus ever produced”.
While the Washington team doesn’t know if the volcano is active, the map could help determine the likely location of any future eruptions.
And there may be more…
Lead author Rebecca Hahn said the findings may just be the tip of a magma cone.
Most mapped volcanoes are less than 3.1 miles wide, which is considered very small.
That’s why many of these volcanoes have gone undiscovered until now, with Ms Hahn using software that wasn’t available when the Magellan data first became available to find more elusive volcanoes.
“People back then manually drew circles around the volcano,” she said.
“I can do it on my computer.”
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Venus and four other planets line up in the sky
Ms Hahn thinks there may be more, smaller volcanoes scattered across the surface of Venus that might be visible with more modern imaging equipment.
Venus is already better surveyed than Earth’s volcanoes because all of its volcanoes are on the surface.
On our planet, many are thought to hide beneath the oceans. We can only identify about 1,350 potentially active volcanoes around the world.
Both NASA and the European Space Agency are preparing missions that will take pictures of Venus in more detail than ever before – The latter aims to launch in 2031.
Mr Byrne said: “We still have a lot of unanswered questions about Venus.
“We’re just getting started.”