Venus, it is true, is much closer to the sun than we are. For this reason, due to its rivers of lava and extreme temperature, it is considered a dead planet. But it has an interesting mystery. Many of its mountains and hills are covered by long and strange parallel lines. Lines that, when observed, make one think that the same floor is bending over itself. Erosion, geological movement? Scientists are not quite sure how the lines of Venus could have formed.
They were first seen by Russian Venera orbiters in the early 1980s. They cover approximately 7% of the planet's surface. They are known as "tiles."
Lines that warp
Paul Byrne is a professor of Planetary Science at North Carolina State University. Thoroughly examined the few radar images that exist of the surface of Venus. Try to find out what exactly those strange marks are. Their conclusions are presented these days during the 51st Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference held in Woodland, Texas.
The researchers found that the lines tend to bend following terrain accidents. As if it were a topographic map, instead of traversing it from part to part. "That indicates they must be made of some kind of layered rock," explains Byrne.
Of course, it is not at all clear how these layers could have formed. But Byrne and his colleagues suspect that some of them may be lava sheets folded in on themselves. They would form piles. The researchers also discovered that something must be wearing down the surface to expose the sides of those layers. But what?
The Venusian Wind
“In order for us to see these lines forming this curved pattern there has to be erosion. During the last hundreds of millions of years there has been a smoothing of sediments and a carving process in these strange terrains.
A possible culprit could be the wind. According to the researchers, there is no reason to think that Venus' climate has changed much over the past few hundred million years. Those winds are probably still slowly wearing down the planet's hills.
Everyone agrees that this is only one possible explanation for the surprising phenomenon. To learn more, we will have to wait for new missions to study our infernal neighbor more thoroughly. Perhaps one day we will have a clear idea of what causes the lines of Venus.