Two billion years ago, the second planet of our Solar System Venus may have a cool atmosphere, had oceans of water, and possibly life. According to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
But how Venus went from a habitable planet to a hell?
Our planetary neighbor has characteristics with which several scientists describe it as “infernal”.
Our neighbor planet Venus has a suffocating atmosphere made up of 96% carbon dioxide, with temperatures averaging 462 degrees Celsius, supplemented by rain clouds of carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid.
HAS VENUS EVER BEEN ABLE TO BE HABITABLE?
And yet, several scientists theorize that Venus was once a very different place, with a cooler atmosphere and liquid oceans on its surface.
Geological analyses indicate that the planet could have oceans, a lighter and colder atmosphere, and perhaps even could harbor life.
The first theory that was handled was that several million years ago Venus had been hit by an asteroid that slowed its rotation to the point of reversing it. However, a new theory says that it was not so.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of Bangor (United Kingdom), the University of Washington and NASA have a new explanation, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters:
“The culprit of the descent of Venus to the underworld was none other than its own ocean.”
Astronomers discovered that ocean tides on Venus decreased their rotation by 72 Earth days every million years.
These ocean currents act as a brake on the rotation of planets due to friction on the bedrock on which they settle. On Earth, for example, the oceans slow the rotation of our planet at a rate of 20 seconds every million years. On Venus, the oceanic brake was much slower.
Experts believe that the effect of the sun on the planet turning so slowly evaporated the oceans and triggered an overwhelming greenhouse effect that turned the planet into the inhospitable place as it is today.
For the moment, the hypothesis will serve to study other exoplanets that show characteristics very similar to the sister planet of the Earth.
- The Earth takes a full turn a little less than 24 hours.
- Mars takes a little more than 24 hours.
- Venus takes 243 Earth days to complete a single turn on itself.