Venus, the once-beautiful goddess #ClimateChange

Venus our close sister. Almost the same size as Earth, almost the same distance from the Sun. Once a planet just like us, probably with water and a nice habitable temperature. It may even have supported some primitive life before Earth did. Then it all went wrong and now Venus is hellish. Super hot temperatures, massive thick atmosphere, covered in volcanoes, snowing metals and raining sulfuric acid.

New research from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York shows how beautiful it once was. This modelling was carried out by adapting Earth climate models and shows what happens in runaway climate change. “Many of the same tools we use to model climate change on Earth can be adapted to study climates on other planets, both past and present,” said Michael Way, a researcher at GISS. We, on Earth, got lucky. We spin faster and had less dry land, and, being further away, received less sunlight.

Now, with sudden climate change caused by human’s burning fossil fuels, our own atmosphere is following exactly what these same models predict. This study of Venus shows that it time to start looking after ourselves. When it comes to humanity, there is no plan-et B.









Venus, truly a thing of beauty


Venus is a strange planet in many ways.

It is upside down , so if you lived there the sun would rise in the west. It has the thickest, most poisonous atmosphere in the solar system. This leads to a runaway greenhouse effect making it the hottest planet in the solar system. So if lived on Venus the direction of sunrise would be the least of your worries. You would be more concerned about being squashed, burned by acid clouds and roasted. All this of course from a planet associated with love, beauty, and all things pretty.

New results from the Venus express satellite show why I think Venus remains beautiful. Venus may have a surprisingly cold layer that’s chillier than any part of our own planet’s atmosphere. This region may be cool enough for carbon dioxide snow or ice to form. The strangely cold region lies about 78 miles (125 kilometers) above the planet’s surface, and appears to host temperatures around minus 283 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 175 degrees Celsius). It’s sandwiched between warmer layers on both sides. “Since the temperature at some heights dips below the freezing temperature of carbon dioxide, we suspect that carbon dioxide ice might form there,” said Arnaud Mahieux of the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, who is lead author of the paper reporting the results in the Journal of Geophysical Research. If there is ice or snow made of carbon dioxide there, it should be very reflective, creating especially bright spots on Venus.

This is the real beauty of science- just when you think you have something figured out, and you just maybe understand it, along comes a new result and we have to think again.