Thursday, July 16, 2009

Remote Sensing Finds Possible Sign of Former Ocean and Plate Tectonics on Venus

This physical/temperature map of Venus possibly tells the sad story of our twin sister planet; one once rich with water that died.

Venus is too often overlooked by Earthlings who instead gaze upon Mars with their dreams of space fairing and colonization. Venus is closer to the Earth and about the same size. The reason for Venus' non-presence in human minds is two fold, 1) astronomers could gaze upon Mars and see the canali while Venus was covered by clouds and 2) Venus has a combination of Hell-like heat, crushing atmospheric pressure, and the air is a combination of poisons and raining acids. So one will hear news stories about signs of water once being on the surface of Mars but never about the same for Venus.

Until now. Satellites measuring heat and the atmosphere has produced some surprising results. Scientists reading the results have interpreted the readings to suggest that granite is on Venus' surface. On Earth granite is formed by plate tectonics crushing volcanic rock and subsequent interaction with large bodies of water. So if there is granite then it is probable Venus did have oceans and plate tectonics. The oceans bit is fascinating because the atmospherics on Venus make water oceans impossible. Something had to go horrible wrong (at least different) in Venus evolution compared to Earth's.

Studying why Venus died could reveal new insights into the planetary systems and Earth's own creation process. Whether or not there is granite on Earth, just reading about Venus makes own grateful to be a native of Sol III.


Lexington Green said...

If it had oceans once, we'll terraform it.

Figure out the chemistry, seed the atmosphere with self-replicating nanobots, and reconfigure it.

We need the real estate.

Michael said...

Problem is, how deep can you make the oceans without eating up all the real estate? I seem to recall seeing a topographical map once suggesting there isn't a huge height difference between the lowest and highest points on Venus.