by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
As NASA and other space exploration outfits prepare to send missions to Venus, new research suggests that the hot, toxic planet is geologically active, reports Leah Crane for New Scientist.
Specifically, a new paper, published this week in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the Venusian surface is at least partly made up of massive hunks of planetary crust that may still be bumping up against each other like huge pieces of pack ice floating atop a roiling sea.
This type of activity doesn’t constitute true plate tectonics, explains Robin George Andrews for the New York Times, because not all of Venus’ surface is covered by jostling plates of crust and those plates don’t appear to slide over or under one another as Earth’s do.
Venus’ 58 pieces of crust are called campi—“fields” in Latin—and they range in size from about the size of Ireland to Alaska, per the Times.
“We’ve identified a previously unrecognized pattern of tectonic deformation on Venus, one that is driven by interior motion just like on Earth,” Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University and the study’s lead author, in a statement. Read More: