Monday, February 11, 2013

Venus Game-changing Tech Forum at LPSC

From the PLANETARY EXPLORATION NEWSLETTER Volume 7, Number 6 (February 10, 2013):


Space technology is a vital tool for both scientists and engineers to reach some of the most extreme environments in our solar system. Exploring Venus with these technologies can answer key questions ranging from the history to the habitability of our universe.

To help us understand these challenges and to identify technologies that may assist you in this quest, we need your help! We would like to tell you about Space Technology and listen to your technology needs through a dialog in a Town Hall meeting format.

First, we plan to provide an overview of Space Technology and the Game-Changing Development Program, including specific examples of Venus exploration technology projects currently under development.

Next, we would like to hear from you! Your identified technology needs play a significant role in our portfolio planning and could enable innovative and exciting future Venus exploration missions.

We are looking forward to seeing y'all at LPSC on Monday March 18, from 12:00 to 13:15 in the Panther Creek Room. 

The forum is hosted by the VEXAG and will be run by Steve Gaddis, Director of the
Game-Changing Development Program, NASA LaRC.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Searching for volcanic eruptions on Venus: Nothing yet

Eugene Shalygin and colleagues report on their ongoing attempts to detect volcanic activity on Venus. The Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) carried by the Venus Express orbiter is capable of making observations in the near-infrared centered around 1.01 microns, a wavelength at which thermal emissions from the planet's surface can be detected on the night side.  They are making observations in likely locations, specifically the area around the Maat Mons, Sapas Mons, and Ozza Mons volcanoes (Messenger spacecraft SAR data showed recent volcanism here, geologically speaking), with the hope of detecting localized bright spots in the images.

To get an idea of how often Maat Mons might erupt, the team reviewed the eruption history of Mauna Loa on Earth since 1900.  They found that even though it is an active volcano, there are only eruption events on 1.6% of the days during the 100 years they evaluated.  Accounting for the length of observation on Venus, the authors calculated a probability of seeing an eruption during any particular observation at 8.6%.

Ultimately, the series of observations made with the VMC, 12 passes in all, did not reveal any suspicious hot spots that could be interpreted as volcanic events.  This does not preclude the possibility that eruptions occurred during this time, but did so while Venus Express was not looking.

They recommend that they keep looking, of course (I concur).


Shalygin, E., Basilevsky, A., Markiewicz, W., Titov, D., Kreslavsky, M., & Roatsch, T. (2012). Search for ongoing volcanic activity on Venus: Case study of Maat Mons, Sapas Mons and Ozza Mons volcanoes Planetary and Space Science, 73 (1), 294-301 DOI: 10.1016/j.pss.2012.08.018