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Venus’ “Squishy” Outer Layer Reshaping the Planet: Study

An illustration of the large Quetzalpetlatl Corona located in Venus’ southern hemisphere. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Peter Rubin.

NASA's latest study suggests that Venus' "squishy" outer shell may be responsible for resurfacing the planet. This groundbreaking research explores the unique geological features on Venus known as coronae and offers new insights into the planet's complex geological processes. Learn more about this study and its implications for our understanding of Venus by reading on.

A new study conducted by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used data from the Magellan spacecraft to investigate the surface of Venus and found intriguing evidence that the planet’s outer shell is “squishy.” The researchers used radar measurements to create high-resolution maps of Venus’ surface and discovered that some areas had been uplifted while others had sunk. They also found that the thickness of the planet’s outer shell varied significantly, indicating that it may be more deformable than previously thought. This “squishy” outer shell may be responsible for resurfacing Venus by enabling the flow of molten rocks and the formation of a new crust, including the formation of coronae.

The study also found that the uplifted regions associated with coronae are often surrounded by circular moats or troughs, which are formed by the sinking of the planet’s crust as magma rises to the surface. The researchers discovered that the thickness of the outer shell beneath coronae is thinner than in other parts of the planet, indicating that the mantle plumes responsible for the formation of coronae have thinned the outer shell.

New insight on Venus

The implications of this discovery are far-reaching, as it provides scientists with a better understanding of the geology and tectonics of Venus, one of the most Earth-like planets in our solar system. By studying the geological activity of Venus, scientists can gain insights into the evolution of rocky planets and the formation of their surfaces.

Researchers explain that this study is particularly important because Venus’ thick atmosphere makes it challenging to study its surface. The researchers used radar measurements to penetrate the planet’s dense atmosphere, which allowed them to create detailed maps of its surface. These maps will help scientists to better understand the geological processes that are shaping the surface of Venus and, in turn, learn more about the inner workings of rocky planets throughout the universe.

Overall, the study provides new insights into the geological activity and formation of coronae on Venus, shedding light on the dynamics of the planet’s interior. This information is valuable for understanding the formation and evolution of rocky planets in our solar system and beyond and may help to inform future missions to Venus and other planets.

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