Venus, the second planet from the Sun often called Earth's "twisted sister" may have not been the fiery planet that it is known as today.
Some 700 million years ago, it may have had more temperate conditions and liquid water that was capable of sustaining life.
Venus once had a temperate climate
That's according to new research from The Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In a new study presented at the European Planetary Science Congress last week, researcher Michale Way and his colleague Anthony Del Genio found Venus was able to maintain a temperature that was between 50 and 20 degrees Celcius for as long as 3 billion years.
That more habitable climate could still exist today if a series of events as much as 750 million years ago didn't cause carbon dioxide stored in the rocks on the planet to release gas, the researchers contend.
While it still remains a mystery why the outgassing occurred on Venus and led to the transformation of the planet, researchers said it's likely due to volcanic activity. One theory is that magma bubbled up and released carbon dioxide from molten rocks into the atmosphere. That magma turned solid and created a barrier that prevented the gas from being reabsorbed. That resulted in the average temperature of 426 degrees on Venus today.
"Our hypothesis is that Venus may have had a stable climate for billions of years. It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hot-house we see today,” said Way in a press release highlighting his research.
Can Venus sustain life today?
In order to come to their conclusion researchers led by Wray developed five simulations that assumed different levels of water coverage on the planet. In all of the scenarios, they discovered Venus could maintain the stable temperatures.
In three of the five simulations, the researchers assumed the Venus was as it is today and then considered an ocean about 310 meters, a shallow layer of water about 10 meters and a small amount of water in the soil. To simulate the conditions 4.2 billion years ago, 715 million years ago and today the researchers used a 3D general circulation model to account for solar radiation.
“Venus currently has almost twice the solar radiation that we have at Earth. However, in all the scenarios we have modeled, we have found that Venus could still support surface temperatures amenable for liquid water,” said Way.