Venus and Earth are said to be twins as in size, mass, density and volume. Venus is the planet most similar to Earth. But does life exist on Venus as on Earth?
Despite decades of spacecraft visits, it’s still a mystery. No one even knows what Venus’ surface rocks are exactly made of. However, it is known that the atmosphere of Venus is made up of thick white and yellowish clouds of Sulphuric acid and it has surface temperatures that can melt lead (average temperature of Venus is +730K).
Discover with us whether life ever existed on the Earth’s twin sister planet and also take a brief look at the study that suggests that Venus once had continents?
Kudos to a powerful oven in a lab in Germany ,where it was used by Jorn Helbert and his colleagues to make the first analogue study of Venus’ surface, this could help us understand the reasons behind Venus not supporting life.
Helbert presented his research at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on Dec 16. He said –
“We want to go back in time and say, what are the evolutionary steps of Venus? Where did it diverge and become Venus instead of Earth?”
There he reflected on few ways to peep into the secrets of Venus and how the team worked on:
“Orbital maps made with radar, which can cut through the cloud layer of Venus. It showed that our planetary neighbour is mainly composed of volcanic plains where lava once flowed and then it cooled down leaving behind the basaltic rocks. Samples from the Soviet era Venera landers suggest the same. But they could not tell what existed further away from their landing sites.”
More recently, an atmosphere-sensing instrument on the European Space Agency’s Venus Express Spacecraft namely ‘Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer’ (VIRTIS), created a rough map of the southern hemisphere of Venus. The blistered rocks glow with infrared light, emitting spectra according to their to their composition. Helbert aspired to use the data to figure out the minerals that make up the surface of Venus, but the surface temperature created a problem for the scientists. So the researchers built a special electric heating chamber to interpret this data. Helbert said –
“It’s a bit like an electric stovetop in your kitchen, just super powered.”
The team cooked a wide range of rocks from basalt to haematite and matched the resulting spectra with that of VIRTIS data. What was found, is very interesting to know. The results suggested that oldest surfaces on Venus could be made up of granite, which on earth are formed through tectonic activity. That might mean Venus once had continents.
Many geologists think that the tectonic activities involve the presence of water and perhaps Venus once had oceans and, hence, Venus once hosted life.
Helbert is now working with Thomas Widemann to come up with an instrument specifically for orbital composition scans and it could fly on a future mission to Venus with NASA .
Discover more about Space with fossBytes.com.