MIT: 2010 March 22
New analysis supports theory that Venus’ surface evolved through extreme makeover, not plate tectonics.
Venus and Earth have long been thought of as sister planets. Given its similar size and proximity to Earth in the inner Solar System, Venus might seem like a promising candidate for having a surface that evolves through a tectonic process similar to what occurs on Earth, where rigid plates slowly shift across the underlying mantle.
But a recent analysis by Peter James, a graduate student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, highlights the fact that Earth’s plate tectonics seem to be the exception rather than the rule for rocky planets like Venus, Mars and Mercury.
This computer-generated view of the surface of Venus was created from
radar images taken during NASA’s Magellan mission during the 1990s.
The images suggest that the Venus surface evolves through a periodic
resurfacing process, possibly caused by volcanic activity. (NASA/JPL)