Back in 2005, the European Space Agency launched Venus Express, a 2800-pound orbiter that found evidence of lightning on our nearest neighbor. Venus expert David Grinspoon says that data suggests about 50 lightning flashes per second, which is about half of the rate here on Earth.
Also compelling is the idea that Venus may have at one time been
covered with water, about as much water as Earth. Scientists announced
today that they have found evidence of Venus' scorching hot surface
and weak gravitational pull allowing hydrogen and oxygen to escape into the atmosphere. It's been known for a while that hydrogen had been escaping but the discovery of oxygen escaping is much more
recent. Said Grinspoon, "Learning about the escape rates of hydrogen and oxygen will help us reconstruct how much water Venus had in the past. Venus may have lost at least up to an Earth's ocean's worth of water."
Grinspoon is the author of a book called Life on Venus wherein he claims that Venus may have been the most hospitable planet
at one time. How 'bout that? It's thought that about four billion
years ago, the sun put out a little more than half the amount of heat that it does today. Earth and were likely big hunks of ice while Venus, much different from the great ball of fire it's become today,
was probably in a nice, stable hospitable zone. Add an Earth-sized ocean and voila, you've got yourself Earth, Venus-style.
"There is some reason to believe Venus may have been the best haven for
life in the early solar system," says Grinspoon. "Venus is the closest
thing Earth has to a twin. Studying Venus is how we learned
about the problem with our ozone layer, and it's a way for us to become wiser in taking care of our own planet."
I'll probably never know if there was intelligent life on Venus at one
point in time and I'm not trying to make a claim for or against it, but
I've personally been fascinated by the idea of past civilizations
ever since I saw this chart (see below). It's a chart of the amount of time it would take to cover any trace of a civilization after it disappeared. It would take a mere 1000 years for most brick and mortar
buildings to fall apart and about 50,000 years for just about everything else to vanish. That's a blink of an eye considering our solar system, as we know it, is thought to be over five billion years old. Imagine, just imagine, the possibilities of long-lost life on our sister planet.
Who knows? Maybe Earth really is the new Venus.
Posted by Doug Aamoth.
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