Venus might be more active than we thought, scientists say

Share this article


A false-color radar view of Lavinia Planitia, one of the lowland regions on Venus where blocks of the planet’s crust seem to be on the move.

NC State University, based upon original NASA/JPL imagery

Something is moving on Venus — or rather beneath the planet’s surface. It’s not life, but it does suggest our neighboring world is a little less static than many believed previously.

A team of researchers from around the world analyzed NASA radar images from the Magellan mission to Venus and found big blocks of its lithosphere, or crust, appeared to have moved.

“It’s not plate tectonics like on Earth — there aren’t huge mountain ranges being created,” North Carolina State University planetary science professor Paul Byrne explained in a statement. “But it is evidence of deformation (movement) due to interior mantle flow, which hasn’t been demonstrated on a global scale before.” 

Byrne is the lead author on a paper published online Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earth and the geological turmoil of its interior are a relative rarity in the solar system. Most other worlds like the moon or Mars are thought to largely be frozen in place by a solid outer crust. It’s long been assumed Venus is similar.

Venus doesn’t host the comparative chaos of Earth’s fiery volcanic plumbing, although there may be some such low-level action there. It also lacks our planet’s giant subduction zones and the powerful earthquakes they create, but Venus’ outer shell still seems to be more mobile than previously thought.

“The mantle inside Venus pushes and pulls on the surface of the planet more strongly than Earth’s mantle does,” explained Baylor University planetary physicist Peter James, a member of the research team. “These calculations of the driving forces corroborated the discovery of block motion and helped us have a better understanding of how it works.”

The scientists saw that large blocks of the Venusian crust seemed to be pulling apart, rubbing together, rotating and sliding past each other. The team likened it to broken slabs of ice moving around the surface of a frozen lake.

“Much of Venus has been volcanically resurfaced over time,” Byrne said. “But … the lithosphere fragmented after those [lava] plains were laid down. This gives us reason to think that some of these blocks may have moved geologically very recently — perhaps even up to today.”

If there is some less dramatic version of Earth’s intense geological activity happening on Venus, scientists will soon have a chance to get a closer look at exactly what’s happening.

NASA and the European Space Agency are planning to send at least three new missions to Venus to update our imagery of the planet’s surface at a much higher resolution.

“I’m particularly excited that these missions will be able to test our key finding that the planet’s lowlands have fragmented into jostling crustal blocks,” Byrne said. 

As if Venus weren’t a horrible enough place, add jostling crustal blocks to its many hazards.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.  

Source link

Tags: , , ,
Overwatch cross-play goes live today
Samsung adds four high refresh monitors to its Odyssey line

Best rewards credit cards for June 2021

iPhone 12 water test: How deep can Apple’s phone really go?

ASRock’s DeskMini Max concept houses AMD Ryzen, dGPU and liquid cooling in a 10L case

Fast and Furious 9 review: The Godfather II of Vin Diesel car crash movies

Nvidia is increasing supply of the RTX 3060 from next month

Nvidia is increasing supply of the RTX 3060 from next month

I switched from Android to iPhone and here’s what happened

iPhone 13 camera: The specs and features the rumors say we’ll see

Watch Microsoft

Watch Microsoft’s Windows 11 unveiling right here at 8am PT / 11am ET

Aliens could have already spotted Earth from over 2,000 different star systems

Earth-like worlds in the Milky Way may be a lot less common than we thought

You May Also Like