Venus, the planet second closest to Earth and which was once thought to be extremely similar to earth is showing signs of a changing landscape, long after it had been written off as dead.
The planet was probably once a perfect habitat for life with oceans of water and suitable temperatures but today it is highly volcanic and too hot to support any life. Temperatures now exceed 460 degrees celsius and has an atmosphere that too heavy and full of carbon dioxide.
But Venus which was thought to be ‘dead’, is actually showing signs of geological activity. Experts say they have spotted signs of mountain ridge movement on Venus which is an extremely similar process to what happens on Earth.
Researchers analysed radar images taken by the Magellan mission which scanned Venus surface between 1990 and 1994. The images revealed mountain ridges and valleys converged to produce flat plains of cooled lava.
The experts say they look like structures which are found on Earth and are similar to a process which took place in the Tarim Basin in northwestern China.
Paul Byrne, who presented his findings at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans and was leader of the study, said: “When you zoom out, you see that these features form a connected pattern. “That’s when you realise that they seem to be working together.
“It’s not plate tectonics, but it does suggest that the outer, rigid, brittle surface layer of Venus, in some places at least, has broken into these small blocks,” some of which stretch up to 1,200 kilometers.
“These are little chunks of land that just rotate and move around. “But if we were to put seismometers on Venus, maybe you’d hear some of these chunks go off today.”
Venus was once thought to be similar in condition to Earth and is in fact a similar size. But over the course of its 4.6 billion year history, greenhouse gasses have taken its toll on the boiling hot planet – which is now even hotter than Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.
Venus spins much more slowly on its axis than Earth, with a typical day on Venus lasting 117 Earth days. This has allowed the atmosphere to become 90 times as thick as Earth’s. Additionally, the more intense sunlight caused its oceans to evaporate which exacerbated the extreme carbon dioxide build up.