Tags: venus | carbon | dioxide | oceans

Venus' Carbon Dioxide Oceans May Have Molded Its Surface

By    |   Wednesday, 31 December 2014 10:15 AM

Venus was once a planet with oceans of liquid carbon dioxide that helped mold its surface, suggests a new study.

The study referenced in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters said Venus may have once had oceans similar to Earth, but instead of water they were filled with carbon dioxide, according to Space.com.

"Venus is typically described as hellish, with a crushing atmosphere and clouds of corrosive sulfuric acid floating over a rocky desert surface hot enough to melt lead," wrote Charles Choi of Space.com. "Although Venus is currently unbearably hot and dry, it might have once had oceans like Earth."

"Prior research suggested that Venus possessed enough water in its atmosphere in the past to cover the entire planet in an ocean about 80 feet deep – if all that water could somehow fall down as rain. But the planet was probably too warm for such water to cool down and precipitate, even if the planet did have enough moisture," wrote Choi.

Dima Bolmatov, a theoretical physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca in New York, told Space.com that carbon dioxide, which is presently in the Venus atmosphere, could have filled those oceans in liquid form.

"Presently, the atmosphere of Venus is mostly carbon dioxide, 96.5 percent by volume," said Bolmatov. "This in turn makes it plausible that geological features on Venus like rift valleys, river-like beds, and plains are the fingerprints of near-surface activity of liquid-like supercritical carbon dioxide."

Venus is similar to the structure and size of Earth, but has intense heat and volcanic activity, according to NASA. The space agency noted that the planet's toxic atmosphere traps heat in what it calls "runaway greenhouse effect" with temperatures that would melt lead. The planet also spins in the opposite direction of most planets in the solar system, noted NASA.

Bolmatov told Space.com that while the atmospheric pressure on Venus's surface is more than 90 times that of Earth, the planet's pressure could have been dozens of times greater in the past, making it possible for supercritical carbon dioxide to form a liquid-like consistency.

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Venus was once a planet with oceans of liquid carbon dioxide that helped mold its surface, suggests a new study.
venus, carbon, dioxide, oceans
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 10:15 AM
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