For half a century, scientists have dreamed of spying erupting volcanoes on Venus. This unfathomably hot world is obfuscated by noxious clouds, but past missions have revealed the surface is covered in volcanic features. And now, thanks to the recorded memories of a long-dead spacecraft, scientists have struck scientific gold: They’ve seen a vent on Venus change shape, expand, and appear to overflow with molten rock.
“My bet is there was an eruption of a lava lake,” says Robert Herrick, a planetary scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and one of the new study’s two co-authors.
As reported today in the in the journal Science, Herrick and a colleague spotted the volcanic maw—on the side