The team used observations from the Magellan probe, which orbited Venus from 1990 to 1994, and used radar to map the surface of Venus. The features it finds have been analyzed before, but this new study uses a new computer model that can identify surface deformations that indicate large-scale block structures in the lithosphere. These blocks, each about the size of Alaska, seem to be slowly colliding with each other, like broken ice on a pond or lake.

This is very different from the current type of plate tectonics on the earth. But if confirmed, it is still evidence of heat flow and molten matter inside Venus-something that has never been observed before. The author believes that the similarities with the geology of the Earth during the Archean epoch (250 to 4 billion years ago) indicate that the “floating ice” model may be a transition of the early plate tectonics of Venus, when Venus was more like the earth at that time.

A false-color radar view of the Lavinia Plain, one of the Venus Lowlands. You can see where the lithosphere split into purple blocks, formed by yellow structural belts.

Paul K. Byrne and Sean C. Solomon.

Sean Solomon, a research scientist at Columbia University and co-author of the new study, said that this kind of movement “is prevalent in the lowlands of Venus and supports a previously unrecognized global tectonic style”.

These discoveries will only inspire more excitement behind the scenes New Venus mission It has recently been approved by NASA and the European Space Agency. Solomon said that he and his team hope that all three people can provide “key data to test the ideas we describe in the paper.” These missions will not be ready for launch until the end of this century, so we hope that this excitement will not diminish in the next few years.


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