Bits of Venus may be lurking on the moon, opening a window into the planet’s past

NASA created this computer-simulated world view of Venus’ northern hemisphere.


Does Venus host alien life? That is the large query after a recent study spotted phosphine — a gasoline with potential organic origins — within the planet’s clouds. We can’t have solutions till we investigate further, however clues to the planet’s historical past of habitability might be nearer than anticipated.

Yale College astronomers Samuel Cabot and Gregory Laughlin stated we must always look to the moon for a peek into Venus’ previous. They defined why in a paper accepted into the Planetary Science Journal this month.

The research suggests “asteroids and comets slamming into Venus might have dislodged as many as 10 billion rocks and despatched them into an orbit that intersected with Earth and Earth’s moon,” Yale said in a statement on Wednesday. These impacts had been extra frequent billions of years in the past, that means bits of historic Venus may stay as well-preserved meteorites on the lunar floor. 

Venus is presently an inhospitable place with a poisonous environment. It is the most well liked planet in our photo voltaic system and is experiencing what NASA calls “a runaway greenhouse impact.” But it surely wasn’t at all times like this. Venus may have had oceans and even been habitable for life as lately as 700 million years in the past.

We might not have to attend too terribly lengthy to deliver new moon rocks again to Earth for the primary time for the reason that 1970s. NASA is encouraging private companies to launch sample collection missions and has its personal bold plans to return people to the moon in 2024.

Chemical evaluation of moon rocks may inform us in the event that they’re unique elements of the moon or meteorites from elsewhere. 

“An historic fragment of Venus would comprise a wealth of data,” Laughlin said. “Venus’ historical past is intently tied to necessary subjects in planetary science, together with the previous inflow of asteroids and comets, atmospheric histories of the inside planets, and the abundance of liquid water.”   

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Amanda Kooser