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Was Venus once covered in a liquid water ocean? A new study suggests it was not, which could diminish hope that eons ago, warm and wet conditions allowed life to arise on the planet.
Today, Venus' climate is far from temperate. The planet is completely shielded by clouds and has a ****-like surface; a runaway greenhouse gas effect makes for lead-melting temperatures of more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit (370 degrees Celsius).
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But some scientists argue that the requirements for life could have existed on Venus earlier in the solar system's history. Venus is roughly the same size and mass as Earth and even had plate tectonics. The sun was also dimmer during that epoch, so Venus, despite being closer to the sun than Earth is, was in the habitable zone, or the region where a rocky planet could have liquid water on its surface.
Related: Can Venus Teach Us to Take Climate Change Seriously?
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Some scientists suggest that habitability vanished when the sun's radiation grew stronger, causing the Venusian oceans to evaporate and water molecules to be thrown into the atmosphere. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas that would have made it harder for heat to escape from the planet. The wet atmosphere began a cycle of rising temperatures, evaporating oceans and increasing water vapor that made temperatures rise even further.
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In September, researchers from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies released simulations...
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