(ORDO NEWS) — Today, Venus has a dry, oxygen-poor atmosphere.
But recent research has shown that the planet may have previously had liquid water and reflective clouds that could support conditions suitable for life.
Researchers at the University of Chicago built a new atmospheric composition model for Venus to study these claims.
Venus is a hot, dry, rocky planet, slightly smaller than our own, with negligible amounts of water vapor in a dense CO2 atmosphere.
Previous studies have attempted to model its atmospheric past. Depending on how past models were built, completely different climate patterns emerge.
Researchers at the University of Chicago decided to tackle this issue with their own model. They took a unique approach.
At first, scientists suggested that once upon a time there was an ocean with a habitable climate on Venus.
They filled in a computer model with many different levels of the ocean and subjected those oceans to three different processes of evaporation and removal of oxygen.
The researchers ran the model with three different time-dependent starting points a total of 94,080 times, using a scoring system that determined the runs with results closest to the actual atmosphere of Venus for the current day.
Out of 94,080 launches, only a few hundred were within range of the actual Venusian atmosphere we see today, according to a study published in PNAS.
Hypothetical habitable epochs on Venus should have ended before 3 billion years ago, with a maximum ocean depth of about 300 meters over the entire surface.
The results show that Venus has been uninhabited for over 70% of its history.
Scientists believe that liquid water on a rocky planet is essential for life to exist. according to the fossil record, life on Earth began about 3.5-4 billion years ago, and even earlier – about 4.5 billion years ago, if we estimate the molecular clock of evolution.
If 3 billion years ago there really was liquid water on the surface of Venus, life could also exist on this planet.
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