Billions of years ago, when the Solar System was still very young, one of its planets enjoyed a temperate climate, with blue skies and large amounts of water running and forming seas and rivers across its entire surface. But that privileged world was not Earth, but Venus.
Now Venus has become a real hell, with temperatures reaching 450 degrees and with a poisonous atmosphere formed mainly by carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
Venus and EarthThey are very similar in size and also share mass and volume. For this reason they are considered as “twin planets”. But given its current conditions, deciphering what Venus was like in the past is not an easy task. Its current area is relatively young, “only” between 300 and 700 million years old, and data collected by space missions that have visited it so far suggests that its atmosphere once had much more water than it contains today.
There are several theories that try to explain what led to the drastic transformation of Venus. Some point to a gradual warming of the Sun, which would have overheated the planet after allowing it to enjoy a brief period of habitability; Others speak of the sudden appearance from the inside, about 4,000 million years ago, of an entire ocean of magma and greenhouse gases that would have completely changed it, leaving it in its current state.
And now, in a recently published study in the Journal of Geophysical Research, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Michael J. Way and Anthony D. Del Genio, have presented evidence that a vast ocean of shallow water, together at conditions fit for life, they could have persisted on Venus for at least 3 billion years and until relatively recent times, until several large magmatic, or igneous, provinces emerged at the same time from the depths, wiping out a single blow with the long temperate period.