When in 1967 and in subsequent years the former Soviet Union landed on Venus for the first time with the Venera probes, for a short time measurement data and pictures from the planet surface, which was hostile to life and technology, were transmitted to Earth: They show a hot, dry landscape made out of volcanic rocks (small picture).
The temperature on the surface of Venus is approximately a constant 460° Celsius. This temperature, at which even lead would melt, is the result of an extreme greenhouse effect that retains a large part of the radiated solar energy under the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere of the planet and heats it up. About half a billion years ago there was a global volcanic disaster on Venus where the whole surface was re-created. Here volcanic activity on Earth looks modest in comparison. However, as for example on the volcanic island of Stromboli in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Southern Italy), comparisons can be made with Venus. For example by comparing volcanic rocks and minerals with regard to their reflection and radiation behaviour at high temperatures such as are found on Venus.
Planetologists are also investigating volcanic gases, for example, carbon and sulphur dioxide, and their effects on the dynamics and processes in the atmosphere of Venus and the greenhouse effect thus triggered, in order to draw conclusions for climate change on Earth.
Credit: DLR; Russische Akademie der Wissenschaften.