New data from a retired NASA telescope suggests the presence of atomic oxygen in Venus’ atmosphere. Although it has been speculated before, this is the first time it has been detected directly on Earth’s dayside.
It was revealed in today’s paper published in diary nature communications, scientists say that on Venus’ dayside, oxygen is produced by the decomposition of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide when exposed to sunlight. Venus’ circulation pattern then transports her to the night side as well.
The researchers say the discovery will help scientists understand why Venus’ atmosphere is so different from Earth’s, and will also support future space exploration to Venus. And three of them are scheduled (see below).
The oxygen was discovered about 90 miles above Venus’ atmosphere in November 2021 by researchers using NASA’s SOFIA, a Boeing 747SP equipped with a 2.5-meter diameter telescope. Ta. SOFIA has since been retired.
The Rockies are about the same size as Earth, about the same distance from the sun, and contain a similar amount of carbon as Venus. But planetary scientists have known since the 1960s that modern-day Venus has thick clouds of sulfuric acid and an atmosphere 50 times denser than Earth’s.
Most of it is carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Its cloud temperature is about 86°F, but its surface can reach 900°F, hot enough to melt lead.
Scientists have long wondered whether Venus could have been habitable before a runaway greenhouse effect caused its water to boil, but one researcher has cast doubt on that. study I completed my PhD at the University of Chicago earlier this year. The study’s computer simulations sought to explain how Venus acquired its current atmosphere. They found few ways for Earth to maintain water and moderate temperatures long enough for life to take hold.
Although this is the first detection of atomic oxygen, it is certainly not as exciting as the recently discovered phosphine on Venus. First discovered in 2020, it was confirmed earlier this year that traces of phosphine, a gas thought to be a sign of life, are definitely present in Venus’ atmosphere.
Phosphine is composed of hydrogen and phosphorus and is a flammable and toxic gas on Earth.
At the very least, this is evidence of strange chemistry happening above Venus’ clouds; another explanation is the surprising discovery of acid-resistant microbes on another planet.
Just a few days ago, new data from NASA’s Juno spacecraft suggested that there are inorganic salts and organic compounds on the surface of Jupiter’s giant moon Ganymede.
Three new missions are currently being prepared to reveal more about Venus.
- NASA’s DAVINCI (launched in 2029) is scheduled to land a spacecraft on the Earth’s surface.
- NASA’s VERITAS (launched in 2031) will map Earth’s volcanoes from orbit.
- The European Space Agency’s EnVision (launched in the early 2030s) will analyze planetary interiors from orbit and monitor trace gases in the atmosphere.
Knowing exactly why and how Venus is inhospitable to life and Earth a paradise is critical for planetary scientists who study exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than the sun. As it turns out, exoplanets that look like Earth from a distance are actually more likely to resemble Venus than Earth.
Therefore, if we are to identify Earth 2.0, we need to know exactly why and how Venus and Earth became so dramatically different in terms of habitability. Sho.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.