This article, written by Smithsonian Magazine, summarizes research on data collected by the Venus Express spacecraft. This research suggests that active volcanoes still exist on Venus, based on the levels of erosion on the hardened lava flows, which takes time to accumulate. On Earth, this would not be substantial, since this erosion takes very long to accumulate, but on Venus this most likely takes much less time, so less eroded patterns have the potential to be very young, suggesting recent eruptions. The researchers roughly simulated conditions on Venus and found that this erosion occurred in a matter of days, which supports the assumptions made about the original findings. Since it is not known how exactly Venus’s atmosphere affects erosion rates, active volcanoes cannot be confirmed with 100% certainty until another mission to the surface takes place. In the meantime, the researchers plan on conducting more experiments with even more accurate simulations of conditions on Venus. The article does a good job of summarizing the study’s content without losing too much of the original info. The methods section, which was the part that contained the most scientific jargon, was especially well summarized in the article, with almost all jargon eliminated while still keeping the main point of the section. The article suffers because of the website it was posted on. The layout of the webpage is overall very tacky, with many advertisements and aggressive prompts. In fact, the original journal that the study was posted on, Sciences Advances, has a better designed website than the Smithsonian Magazine does, which is usually not the case. With a good adblocker, this article is extremely informative and effective at conveying the key details from a very interesting study.
Katherine Wu, a science journalist for Smithsonian Magazine, explores recent developments in our understanding of Venus’s volcanic activity. Using data from the ESA’s now-dead Venus Express spacecraft, researchers at the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Universities Space Research Association were able to analyze lava flows and other volcano residuals on the planet’s surface. The article informs the reader of the steps taken in the laboratory to date the evidence and determine how recently an eruption must have taken place.
Wu details the scientists’ use of a box furnace that can mimic the extremely high temperatures of Venus’s surface. They measured the weathering over time of the mineral olivine to determine the age of the residuals captured by Venus Express. The research paper itself concludes that Venus is indeed volcanically active due to their results, but Wu takes a less convinced stance in her review article, saying only that the data are “promising” and that volcanoes ‘may still exist,’ a slight understatement of the researchers’ findings.
The article is concise, void of conflicting interests or bias, and speaks in accessible terminology for the lay public. Smithsonian Magazine is a fairly reputable, but not extremely popular source for scientific news – however, the research article is published in Science Advances, a reputable journal.
The content of the article correctly summarizes many key points from the study. It gives a fair explanation of the methodology given its short length. While finer details are left out, the message is appropriate for the lay public. Conclusions, however, are less confident and clear-cut than they are presented in the research. Also, the article mentions a ‘Choi’ – presumably an individual used as a source but who is not introduced, explained, or linked; this slight does damage the credibility of the reporting despite its effective representation of the science.
The article contains relatively little jargon that would be inaccessible to the general public. No outside sources or quotes are provided, suggesting there could be bias in the reporting. The paper itself is easily found following links provided on the news article. The author’s social media and biography are provided.
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