Friday, December 30, 2016

Examining the Recent Volcanic Activity on Venus' Idunn Mons by Venus Express


D'Inecco et al


From 2006 until 2014 the ESA Venus Express probe observed the atmosphere and surface of the Earth's twin planet. The Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) has provided data that indicate the occurrence of recent volcanic activity on Venus. We selected the eastern flank of Idunn Mons - Imdr Regio's single large volcano – as the study area, since it was identified in VIRTIS data as one of the regions with relatively high values of thermal emissivity at 1 μm wavelength. Using the capabilities of specific techniques developed in the Planetary Emissivity Laboratory group at DLR in Berlin, our study intends to identify location and extent of the sources of such anomalies, thus the lava flows responsible for the relatively high emissivity observed by VIRTIS over the eastern flank of Idunn Mons. We map the lava flow units on the top and eastern flank of Idunn Mons, varying the values of simulated 1 μm emissivity assigned to the mapped units. For each configuration we calculate the total RMS error in comparison with the VIRTIS observations. In the best-fit configuration, the flank lava flows are characterized by high values of 1 μm simulated emissivity. Hence, the lava flow units on the eastern flank on Idunn Mons are likely responsible for the relatively high 1 μm emissivity anomalies observed by VIRTIS. This result is supported by the reconstructed post-eruption stratigraphy, displaying the relative dating of the mapped lava flows, that is independent of the 1 μm emissivity modeling. Values of average microwave emissivity extracted from the lava flow units range around the global mean, which is consistent with dry basalts.

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