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Venus is alive and here’s what we know4 min read

June 25, 2021 4 min read


Venus is alive and here’s what we know4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Scientists have found proof that parts of Venus’ surface move around like the pieces of continents on Earth

Wait, the floor beneath my feet moves?

The simple answer is yes.
The Earth’s continents are always moving. Thanks to the rocky slabs called tectonic plates that it stands on. These plates are always moving. This movement is what has led to the formation of the continents as we know them now. The Himalayas came to be because the subcontinent of India kept pushing against Asia. In fact it is still cozying up to the Asia, which is why the Himalayas are still growing!

And it gets way cooler than the cool air of the mountains:

Did you know that 240 million years ago, Earth was one large landmass? Scientists called it Pangea. Then, the landmass danced around a little bit away from each other only to come back as Pannotia from 600 milion years ago and Rodinia from billion years ago.

Scientists also believe that this will happen again, and Earth as we know it, at a distant point in the future will reassemble to form one landmass.

But what is happening on Venus is not because of tectonic plates. Computer models reveal that this movement could be because of molten rock formation beneath the lithosphere of Venus.

The lithosphere is the outer part of a planet. For Earth, it covers the crust and
the mantle.

Image: National Geographic

This means that Venus’ tectonic activity was the same as that of Earth but from 2.5 billion years ago!

What is happening on Venus?

This is a view of Nüwa Campus which is the largest block in the Venus lowlands. Signs of lava flow can be traced under its surface. Image: BBC

Dr Byrne, Dr Richard Ghail, from Royal Holloway, University of London, Prof Sean Solomon, from Columbia University, in New York, and colleagues have found that the rocky surface in the lowlands of Venus had rotated and moved towards each other. They used data collected by Nasa’s Magellan spacecraft, launched in 1989 and active until 1994.

They compared this movement to the movement of fragmented ice in the sea in Earth’s polar regions. These moving blocks (100-1,000 km long) also resemble the Earth’s crust in China’s Tarim and Sichuan basins, Australia’s Amadeus basin and the Bohemian massif underlying many parts of the Czech Republic.

Venus continues to be the helpful guide for Earth to the rest of the Universe. Remember when it brought us closer to the sun?

Head over to Owliver’s archives to know more. There is also a puzzle at the end. Click on the picture to get there.

Earlier scientists believed that unlike the Earth, Venus had one big land formation. The same is also believed for the Moon, Mercury and Mars.

The mobility detected on Venus is nowhere close to that of the Earth. But it remains as a fascinating discovery as it indicates that tectonic activity need not be the only reason for landmass movement.

What’s next?

There is a lot going to Venus from Earth!

Europe is sending a spacecraft, EnVision, for further study of the planet’s surface and atmosphere. NASA will also be sending two crafts, Veritas and DaVinci+, to Venus by the end of this decade.

And we will keep you posted with all that is happening in the other world! For now, have you caught up with the recent happenings in space?

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