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Here on Earth, volcanoes have a reputation for creation and destruction, regularly spewing out our planet’s molten innards as a consequence of plate tectonics. Nearby in the solar system, however, volcanism seems to have gone extinct, leaving behind the Moon’s darkened, basaltic plains and Mars’s massive mountains. But our relatively recent exploration of the outer solar system – where tidal heating unleashes massive volcanic plumes on Jupiter’s moon Io, and water vapour spurts through the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus – has proven that Earth is far from the only body in our solar system churning with volcanic life. Indeed, these discoveries have given rise to a fascinating new frontier of volcanology. Part of the American Museum of Natural History’s Shelf Life series, which explores science through the museum’s collection of artifacts and specimens, this short video guides viewers through a survey of volcanism in our solar system, and in doing so raises questions about volcanoes’ potential role in the origin of life.
Space Volcanoes is an interactive 360° video. As it plays, click and drag your cursor on the video player to explore each scene.
Producer: Erin Chapman
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