Scientists might have spotted tectonic activity inside Venus
Venus might be hell, but don’t call it a dead planet. Amid surface temperatures of up to 471 °C and surface pressures 100 times greater than those on Earth, new research suggests the planet might still be geologically active. That’s encouraging news to people who think it could once have hosted life (or that it might still be able to).
Earth’s lithosphere (its crust and upper mantle) is made of “plates” that move around and crash into each other, resulting in mountains, deep ocean trenches, and volcanic and seismic activity. This tectonic activity also plays an important role in the carbon cycle, the processes in which carbon is released and reabsorbed in the ecosystem; by regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it has helped keep the planet cool and comfortable this whole time.
Thus far, scientists have never observed anything similar on Venus. But we’ve never been able to rule it out, because it’s hard to make scientific observations of the planet (its thick clouds obscure its surface, and any spacecraft we’d land there would most likely melt in a matter of hours). In the new findings, published in PNAS today, scientists think they’ve finally spotted evidence of a new type of tectonic activity on Venus.