Arachnoid (astrogeology)

In astrogeology, an arachnoid is a large geological structure resembling a spider web. They are of unknown origin, and have been found only on the surface of the planet Venus. They appear as concentric ovals surrounded by a complex network of fractures, and can span 200 kilometers. Over 90 arachnoids have been identified on Venus, so far.[2]

The arachnoid might be a strange relative to the volcano, however, it is also possible that different arachnoids are formed by other processes.[3] One possible explanation is that an upwelling of magma from the interior of the planet pushed up on the surface, causing cracks.[4] An alternate theory concerning their origin is that they are a precursor to coronae formation.[5]

Much of what is known about arachnoids is the result of studies performed by C.B. Dawson and L.S. Crumpler.[6]

Venusian „arachnoid” Trotula Corona[1]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kostama, V.P. (2002). "The Four Arachnoid Groups of Venus" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science Conference – via lpi.
  3. ^ This article contains text from the Astronomy Picture of the Day [1]. As a work of the United States Federal Government, it is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "WTP: Venus: Arachnoids". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  5. ^ Hamilton, Calvin J. "Arachnoids". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  6. ^ Dawson and Crumpler. "Characteristics of Aracnoids from Magellan Data" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Institute Conference: 383–384 – via LPSC.

External links

This article incorporates text from a public-domain NASA website.


Arachnoid may refer to:

Relating to arachnids

Arachnoid mater, a layer of the meninges, membranes that contain the central nervous system

Arachnoid granulation, small protrusions of the arachnoid mater

Arachnoid (astrogeology), a geological structure found only on the planet Venus

Arachnoid (botany), referring to organs with a cobwebby exterior appearance

Geology of Venus

Venus is a planet with striking geology. Of all the other planets in the Solar System, it is the one nearest to Earth and most like it in terms of mass, but has no magnetic field or recognizable plate tectonic system. Much of the ground surface is exposed volcanic bedrock, some with thin and patchy layers of soil covering, in marked contrast with Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Some impact craters are present, but Venus is similar to Earth in that there are much fewer craters than on the other rocky planets that are largely covered by them. This is due in part to the thickness of the Venusian atmosphere disrupting small impactors before they strike the ground, but the paucity of large craters may be due to volcanic re-surfacing, possibly of a catastrophic nature. Volcanism appears to be the dominant agent of geological change on Venus. Some of the volcanic landforms appear to be unique to the planet. There are shield and composite volcanoes similar to those found on Earth. Given that Venus has approximately the same size, density, and composition as Earth, it is plausible that volcanism may be continuing on the planet today, although convincing direct observations of a volcanic eruption have not yet occurred, leaving modern volcanism an open question.

Most of the Venusian surface is relatively flat; it is divided into three topographic units: lowlands, highlands, and plains. In the early days of radar observation the highlands drew comparison to the continents of Earth, modern research has shown that this is superficial and the absence of plate tectonics makes this comparison misleading. Tectonic features are present to a limited extent, including linear "deformation belts" composed of folds and faults. These may be caused by mantle convection. Many of the tectonic features such as tesserae (large regions of highly deformed terrain, folded and fractured in two or three dimensions), and arachnoids (for those features resembling a spider's web) are associated with volcanism.

Eolian landforms are not widespread on the planet's surface, but there is considerable evidence the planet's atmosphere causes the chemical weathering of rock, especially at high elevations. The planet is remarkably dry, with only a chemical trace of water vapor (20 ppm) in the Venusian atmosphere. No landforms indicative of past water or ice are visible in radar images of the surface. The atmosphere shows isotopic evidence of having been stripped of volatile elements by offgassing and solar wind erosion over time, implying the possibility that Venus may have had liquid water at some point in the distant past; no direct evidence for this has been found. Much speculation about the geological history of Venus continues today.

The surface of Venus is not easily accessible because of the extremely thick atmosphere (some 90 times that of Earth's) and the 470 °C (878 °F) surface temperature. Much of what is known about it stems from orbital radar observations, because the surface is permanently obscured in visible wavelengths by cloud cover. In addition, a number of landers have returned data from the surface, including images.

Geysers on Mars

Martian geysers (or CO2 jets) are putative sites of small gas and dust eruptions that occur in the south polar region of Mars during the spring thaw. "Dark dune spots" and "spiders" – or araneiforms – are the two most visible types of features ascribed to these eruptions.

Martian geysers are distinct from geysers on Earth, which are typically associated with hydrothermal activity. These are unlike any terrestrial geological phenomenon. The reflectance (albedo), shapes and unusual spider appearance of these features have stimulated a variety of hypotheses about their origin, ranging from differences in frosting reflectance, to explanations involving biological processes. However, all current geophysical models assume some sort of jet or geyser-like activity on Mars. Their characteristics, and the process of their formation, are still a matter of debate.

These features are unique to the south polar region of Mars in an area informally called the 'cryptic region', at latitudes 60° to 80° south and longitudes 150°W to 310°W; this 1 meter deep carbon dioxide (CO2) ice transition area—between the scarps of the thick polar ice layer and the permafrost—is where clusters of the apparent geyser systems are located.

The seasonal frosting and defrosting of carbon dioxide ice results in the appearance of a number of features, such dark dune spots with spider-like rilles or channels below the ice, where spider-like radial channels are carved between the ground and the carbon dioxide ice, giving it an appearance of spider webs, then, pressure accumulating in their interior ejects gas and dark basaltic sand or dust, which is deposited on the ice surface and thus, forming dark dune spots. This process is rapid, observed happening in the space of a few days, weeks or months, a growth rate rather unusual in geology – especially for Mars. However, it would seem that multiple years would be required to carve the larger spider-like channels. There is no direct data on these features other than images taken in the visible and infrared spectra.


Rille (German for 'groove') is typically used to describe any of the long, narrow depressions in the surface of the Moon that resemble channels. The Latin term is rima, plural rimae. Typically a rille can be up to several kilometers wide and hundreds of kilometers in length. However, the term has also been used loosely to describe similar structures on a number of planets in the Solar System, including Mars, Venus, and on a number of moons. All bear a structural resemblance to each other.


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