Venus has an "electric wind" that scientists say is responsible for drying up the planet's oceans, and now they wonder if the same holds true for other "Earth-like" planets.
“It’s amazing, shocking,” Glyn Collinson, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said on the space agency's website
. “We never dreamt an electric wind could be so powerful that it can suck oxygen right out of an atmosphere into space. This is something that has to be on the checklist when we go looking for habitable planets around other stars.”
Collinson's research, conducted as part of the European Space Agency's
Venus Express mission, was published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
Evidence suggests Venus once held oceans. With surface temperatures around 860 degrees, the planet's oceans are thought to have boiled away, NASA said. Now, scientists think electric winds removed the resultant steam from the planet's atmosphere.
Researchers discovered the planet's electric field, which is five times more powerful than on Earth, with the help of an electron spectrometer aboard the ESA Venus Express.
Understanding the electric field of planets may help scientists unlock details about the habitability of planets beyond our solar system, Maddie Stone wrote on Gizmodo
. Scientists describe planets with rocky surfaces located a comfortable distance from their suns as "Earth-like."
"But if a rocky, habitable-zone exoplanet turns out to have a monstrous electric field, would it really be Earth-like? Or would it be more like Venus?" Stone wrote.
Information about electric wind could help scientists more accurately pinpoint which expoplanets could support life, Time magazine
Some Twitter users were fascinated by the discovery.
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