PARIS – A recent scientific study, whose organizers used a sophisticated climate model, concluded that Venus has never constituted an environment incubating the oceans, in results that weaken the hypothesis that the “twin” planet of the Earth may have harbored life.
“We may have underestimated the difficulty needed to make oceans appear on planets like Earth, Venus or even exoplanets,” explains astrophysicist and climatologist Martin Turbet of the University of Geneva Astronomical Observatory.
It became known, for example, thanks to probes and exploration missions, that Mars had large bodies of water. But the surface of Venus, which is hidden by thick clouds of sulfuric acid droplets, remains largely a mystery.
The enormous pressure that prevails there, which is more than 90 times higher compared to Earth, and the enormous temperatures of more than 470 degrees Celsius, quickly came to resist the rare probes that managed to land there.
However, a 2016 study questioned whether Venus constituted a habitable environment, assuming that special cloud cover has long served as protection for hypothetical bodies of water.
However, the study, the results of which were recently published in the journal “Nature” and signed by Martin Turbet with a team of scientists from his university, the astrophysics laboratories in Bordeaux and the French laboratory “Latmos” specializing in the atmosphere, raises doubts about this scenario.
The scientist says, “Before we ask how any ocean could be stable on the surface of Venus, we must ask how it could have formed.”
So we must study how we moved a few billion years ago, from a “young and very hot” planet, where all available water “in the atmosphere was in the form of vapor”, to a planet where the vapor could form oceans through condensation by cooling.
Turbet’s team used a complex climate model, taking into account cloud formation and atmospheric circulation. The conclusions were decisive.