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Name: Brent
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: TX
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2011


Question:
Is there plate tectonics on other planets?



Replies:
The short answer is that scientists really don't know for sure if there has been or is active plate tectonics on other planets in our solar system. NASA scientists have found some evidence of possible plate tectonics on Mars, but some scientists have discounted this information. Similarly, some scientists have suggested that there may have been plate tectonics on Venus, but it is not a well-supported idea. A link to one of the pages about Mars discusses magnetic "striping" similar to that found on Earth:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/ast29apr99_1/gested

As for planets in other solar systems, it is possible, but we simply do not have enough data to say for sure. Scientists have suggested that large quantities of water, as we have on Earth, are necessary for plate tectonics to occur. If that is the case, then perhaps Mars and Venus (if they had water in the past) had active plate tectonics occurring in the past. Also, it would mean that if we find other planets with water, we could look for evidence of active plate tectonics.

Patricia Rowe, MS, MSEd.



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