Project/blog link:Mapping Venus' Geologic Activity BASIS Advisor: Ms. Maya Barlev Internship location: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Onsite Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Whitten, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies
Of all the explorations of the inner rocky planets in our solar system, there has been the longest gap in time between the missions to Venus. Venus, however, has many features similar to those on Earth. Learning more about Venus can tell us more about our own atmosphere, global warming, and volcanoes. This research project will be looking at crater ejecta primarily located in tesserae, or rough and deformed parts of Venus’s surface, with the goal of discovering why the planet’s surface appears to be young with relatively few craters. Also, as impacts are made by projectiles hitting Venus’s surface, the older underlying material is revealed, allowing us to examine older parts of the planet and to learn more about its formation. The predominant theory is volcanic re-surfacing, or warm material rising up from below and smoothing out the surface. This project will investigate Venus through the radar satellite images taken by the Magellan mission. Using the geographical mapping system ArcGIS and large printed photographs of the planet, it will be possible to see Venus’ surface in more detail and to mark any notable characteristics. Venus has been frequently overlooked by NASA when they choose their missions; previous landers have not lasted longer than two hours on its surface. Successful completion of this project will contribute a path for developing better rover technology, as well as draw more attention to Venus for a possible selection for the mid-2020s New Frontiers mission.