A new discovery by NASA could change how we understand our closest neighbor.
An incredible new report out of NASA is claiming something rather extraordinary: that despite the crushing atmosphere and extreme temperatures on Venus, there are signs that our closest neighbor may have once been habitable.
Today, there’s absolutely not a chance of that. Temperatures reach at scorching 462 degrees Celsius, and the atmosphere is 90 times thicker than ours, making it one of the least likely candidates for life. But that was not the case long, long ago, and a new study suggests that planet may have been actually quite comfortable for up to 2 billion years of its history based on computer simulations,a ccording to a NASA statement.
In fact, the planet may have had a shallow liquid water ocean and relaitvely habitable surface temperatures.
How did they figure this out? They used a model that is used to predict future climate change on Earth to determine what Venus might have once looked like, as the same tools can be adapted for climates on other planets.
“Scientists long have theorized that Venus formed out of ingredients similar to Earth’s, but followed a different evolutionary path,” the statement reads. “Measurements by NASA’s Pioneer mission to Venus in the 1980s first suggested Venus originally may have had an ocean. However, Venus is closer to the sun than Earth and receives far more sunlight. As a result, the planet’s early ocean evaporated, water-vapor molecules were broken apart by ultraviolet radiation, and hydrogen escaped to space. With no water left on the surface, carbon dioxide built up in the atmosphere, leading to a so-called runaway greenhouse effect that created present conditions.
“Previous studies have shown that how fast a planet spins on its axis affects whether it has a habitable climate,” it continues. “A day on Venus is 117 Earth days. Until recently, it was assumed that a thick atmosphere like that of modern Venus was required for the planet to have today’s slow rotation rate. However, newer research has shown that a thin atmosphere like that of modern Earth could have produced the same result. That means an ancient Venus with an Earth-like atmosphere could have had the same rotation rate it has today.”
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