While it is possible Mars once supported life, Earth is currently the only planet in the solar system currently known to do so. But in a new study, it has been recorded that Venus may have been habitable for a few billion years until something bizarre happened.
Research presented at the European Planetary Science Congress – Division for Planetary Sciences Joint Meeting 2019 – revealed how Venus potentially had stable temperatures and housed “liquid water” for 2 to 3 billion years, until a “dramatic transformation” started to happen over 700 million years ago that completely reshaped the planet and resurfaced approximately 80 percent of it.
“Our hypothesis is that Venus may have had a stable climate for billions of years. It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hot-house we see today,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Way, in a statement.
Currently, Venus has a surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit but in the five outcomes that Way and the researchers ran for the study – they discovered that Venus was able to maintain stable temperatures scenarios between 4 degrees Fahrenheit and 122 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 3 billion years.
The something odd happened a mass explosion of carbon dioxide on the planet between 700 million and 750 million years ago, an event that Way believes could be linked to the volcanic activity on the planet.
“Something happened on Venus where a huge amount of gas was released into the atmosphere and couldn’t be re-absorbed by the rocks,” Way added. “On Earth we have some examples of large-scale outgassing, for instance the creation of the Siberian Traps 500 million years ago which is linked to a mass extinction, but nothing on this scale. It completely transformed Venus.”
And while Venus is closer to the Sun and its extreme surface temperature makes the existence of liquid water on the planet not possible — during the simulations, researchers found something amazing.
“Venus currently has almost twice the solar radiation that we have at Earth,” said Way. “However, in all the scenarios we have modeled, we have found that Venus could still support surface temperatures amenable for liquid water.”
Currently, Venus is too hot to support any liquid water. Way explains how additional research is needed to understand the planet’s history and how it may affect the search for exoplanets.
“We need more missions to study Venus and get a more detailed understanding of its history and evolution,” Way said. “However, our models show that there is a real possibility that Venus could have been habitable and radically different from the Venus we see today. This opens up all kinds of implications for exoplanets found in what is called the ‘Venus Zone’, which may in fact host liquid water and temperate climates.”
In late September, scientists found water vapor in the atmosphere of a “super-Earth” exoplanet with potentially habitable temperatures exactly 110 light-years from Earth.