Scientists have solved one of the most curious questions that astronomers have posed and attempted to answer for decades. How does Venus appear to have one of the cleanest and most obstruction free surfaces of any planet? The answer appears to be one that has to do with the way the surface was created. However, that surface, according to the researchers, was created less than a billion years ago.
For a surface, that’s incredibly young, and even more impressively, the surface is constantly being “paved over,” as researchers put it by filling in craters and other imperfections that pop up all over the planet. Eugene Shalygin of the Max Planck Institute pointed out that, “By chance we found this bright event, and by carefully analyzing the region we found three more.”
However, scientists learned pretty early on during this study that they weren’t going to be able to see the surface without significant challenge. The team pointed out that they had to use thermal imaging cameras to see to the surface in the first place. This is where the challenge had historically been, in actually getting through the atmosphere of the planet.
Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University pointed out that, “This is such beautiful evidence for volcanism.” She went on to point out that while the discovery itself isn’t a complete shock since scientists and astronomers have long held theories regarding the consistency of the planet – the specifics of the discovery were shocking. The team didn’t necessarily plan on making this discovery, so the discovery itself came as a shock and surprise.
The team had also pointed out that there was a small carbon cycle on the planet. That’s impressive by itself, but even more so given the fact that this cycle creates a planet that is constantly getting re-paved by lava. This means the would-be craters and things of that nature, are ultimately turned into a roadway system that is constantly filling in the holes of the planet.
Dr. Colin Wilson of Oxford University pointed out that, “This latest evidence very much leads us to believe that we’ve finally found proof that the surface is tectonically active and changing today.” As the team pointed out in the study, this was visually represented by hot spots forming throughout the planet, giving them the ability to see these things as they were happening. These shifting events prove there is something significant happening on the surface of Venus.
Venus is often referred to as our closest sibling in the universe, mostly because it shares our size and shape. However, it has one thing going for it that Earth doesn’t, in that it’s significantly better built – even if it is entirely uninhabitable.