Ridged Plains on Europa Reveal a Compressive Past

Post Contributed by Dr. Erin Leonard, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa has a geologically young surface (60-100 million years old), as evidenced by the sparsity of large impact craters. Studying the surface features on Europa allows insight into how resurfacing may have given it a youthful appearance. The majority of Europa’s young surface is made up of Ridged Plains terrain. This terrain has not been extensively studied before because it appears as a smooth and relatively bland in the global-scale images. However, in the few high-resolution images returned by the Galileo mission in the early 2000s, the Ridged Plains are revealed to consist of numerous ridges and troughs that have a range of morphologies—from crisscrossing each other in various directions to orderly sets of parallel structures (Image 1). But how did these ridges and troughs form?

LeonardFigure1

Image 1: A variety of examples of ridged plains on Europa. Note the linear to curvilinear systematic ridge traces in all examples: (A) observation E4ESDRKMAT02 at 26 m/pixel, (B) observation 19ESRHADAM01 at 66 m/pixel, (C) observation 12ESWEDGE_02 at 29 m/pixel, and (D) observation 12ESMOTTLE02 at 16 m/pixel.

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Valley Networks on Venus

Posted by Dr. Goro Komatsu, IRSPS, Univ. G.d’Annunzio, Italy.  

(Re-posted from IAG Image of the Month, December, 2007)

“…excitement and pleasure in science derive not so much from achieving the final explanation as from discovering the fascinating range of new phenomena to be explained” (Baker and Komatsu, 1999).”

Networks on Venus

The Magellan spacecraft acquired SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) images of venusian surfaces at a spatial resolution range of about 100 m per pixel.

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Vir-Ava Chasma, Venus

Posted by Les Bleamaster, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, USA.

(Re-posted from IAG Image of the month, July 2007)

This false color, three-dimensional perspective view over the Turan Planum of Venus shows the interaction of tectonic structures and volcanic processes along chasmata or “rifts.”

venus

Foreground is approximately 400 km, with a vertical exaggeration of 8x.

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