Activity on Venus, surface appear to move around like continents on Earth, according to scientists. While this activity on venus is unlikely to be caused by plate tectonics in the same way as it occurs on Earth, it could be a “cousin” of that process.
In contrast to the classic image of Venus, the discoveries fit an emerging picture of a planet that is very much alive.
Signs of geological activity found on Venus https://t.co/RPaIbJxdSf
— BBC Science News (@BBCScienceNews) June 22, 2021
Launch of a new spacecraft from Europe to study the surface of the earth
Europe is launching EnVision, a spacecraft that will survey the planet’s surface and acquire spectroscopic observations.
In addition, Nasa plans to deploy two vehicles to Venus, Veritas and DaVinci+, before the end of the decade. “We’ve discovered a previously unknown pattern of tectonic deformation on Venus,” said lead author Paul Byrne, an associate professor of planetary science at North Carolina State University.
“It is nonetheless evidence of inner motion being expressed at the planet’s surface, although being distinct from the tectonics we currently experience on Earth.” Dr. Byrne, Dr. Richard Ghail of the Royal Holloway University of London, Prof. Sean Solomon of Columbia University in New York, and colleagues discovered evidence that rocky crust blocks in Venus’s lowlands region had rotated and shifted laterally relative to one another.
They connect the ostensibly recent action to how pack ice fragments jiggle around in the sea in Earth’s polar regions.
The blocks, which range in length from 100 to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), are likewise similar to the Earth’s crust in the following ways:
- The Tarim and Sichuan basins in China.
- The Amadeus Basin in Australia.
- Much of the Czech Republic is underlain by the Bohemian massif.
“This research reveals that we have a lot to learn from Venus and that there is a far wider spectrum of surface motion than just plate tectonics,” Richard Ghail, the main investigator on the European Space Agency’s EnVision project, told BBC News.
New scientists and the use of ancient studies
The scientists utilized data from Nasa’s Magellan spacecraft, which was launched in 1989 and operated until 1994, to map the surface features, which they have dubbed “campi” after the Latin word for “field” or “campus.”
In contrast to the Earth’s lithosphere, which is broken up into a patchwork of moveable tectonic plates, Venus’s lithosphere – its rocky outer layer – was once assumed to be in one continuous piece.
Static lithospheres are also thought to exist on the Moon, Mars, and Mercury.
However, the findings, which were published in the journal PNAS, imply that Venus’s lithosphere does have some movement, though not nearly as much as Earth’s. The tension, breaking, and distortion shown in Magellan photographs of the surface could be caused by molten rock – magma – swirling beneath the crust, according to computer models.
As a result, Venus’s tectonic activity may approximate that of early Earth, between four and 2.5 billion years ago, during the Archean Eon, when the planet’s heat flux was stronger and the lithosphere was thinner.