SCIENCE

Scientists Solve Venus' Vanishing Oceans Mystery

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jun, 22, 2016, 07:42 PM
Tags : science, space
Venus Transit Across The Sun
(Photo : Getty Image/NASA) A new study suggests that scientists may have finally figured out where the ancient oceans that once covered Venus have gone.

A new study suggests that scientists may have finally figured out where the ancient oceans that once covered Venus have gone.

Earth and Venus are similar in size and gravitational force, but they may have once also shared another trait - water, writes The Business Insider.

Prior studies suggest that Venus was once an oceanic planet - much like Earth. This is apparent due to the presence of a form of hydrogen found in Earth's oceans, atmospheric deuterium.

The latest study suggests that electric winds may have stripped Venus of all of its water leaving the planet hot and arid. The planet's atmosphere now contains almost 100,000 times less water than that found on Earth.

A number of theories about Venus' disappearing water have been presented, including evaporation and solar winds due to the planet's close proximity to the sun, however these processes would leave telltale molecules in the atmosphere.

The study suggests that a powerful electric wind stripped the vast oceans from Venus, overcoming the planet's gravitational pull and dragging molecules from its atmosphere into the depths of space.

"We found that the electric wind, which people thought was just one small cog in a big machine, is in fact this big monster that's capable of sucking the water from Venus by itself," Glyn Collinson, co-author of the new study, said in a statement.

The electric wind is about five times as strong as that on Earth, measuring about 10 volts, reports The Washington Post.

Scientists are still unsure about why the electric wind on Venus is so strong, but they believe it could be linked to the short distance between the planet and the sun.

The researchers believe that their findings will be crucial to future space exploration, as having a deeper understanding of electric winds could inform the search for extraterrestrial life existing on exoplanets.

The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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