Venus lost its water and became a planet

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Scientists may have identified a molecule that played a key role in robbing Venus of its water and turned this planet into the arid, hellish world we see today.
While our planet is teeming with life, Venus, the second planet from the sun, is a virtual hell.
Importantly, Venus also lacks a key element for life that’s abundant here on Earth: Water.
“As an analogy, say I dumped out the water in my water bottle,” Cangi said.
Electrons in Venus’ atmosphere rapidly recombine with HCO+, causing the molecule to split into two.
“One of the surprising conclusions of this work is that HCO+ should actually be among the most abundant ions in the Venus atmosphere,” Chaffin said.
Thus far, we’ve never seen HCO+ in Venus’ atmosphere.
NASA’s Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) mission is a particularly important one.


A chemical that may have been crucial in depriving Venus of its water and transforming it into the parched, horrific planet it is today may have been discovered by scientists.

Venus is frequently referred to as “Earth’s twin” due to the fact that both of these rocky inner-solar system planets are about the same size and density. However, Venus is very different from Earth in a number of important aspects.

Venus, the second planet from the sun, is a virtual hell, while our planet is teeming with life. At approximately 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius), it is the hottest planet in the solar system—even hotter than Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. Lead can be melted at that temperature. Venus also has extremely terrifying surface pressures.

Notably, Venus is also devoid of water, which is essential for life and abundant on Earth. This is true even though Venus is thought to have once had water and is located in what is known as the sun’s “Goldilocks Zone,” which is the area around our star that is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.

Related: Zoozve: the peculiar Venusian “moon” that happened to get its name by chance.

In actuality, Venus is thought to have had an equal amount of water to Earth billions of years ago. However, during Venus’s evolutionary history, carbon dioxide clouds in the planet’s atmosphere caused the strongest runaway greenhouse effect in the solar system. The result was a spike in temperature that reached current levels. The planet’s water began to evaporate as a result, and was eventually lost to space.

Despite accounting for this process, scientists still don’t understand how Venus turned into a desert and how it continues to lose what little water it still has to space. Now, by narrating what they refer to as “the water story on Venus,” a group of scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder may have uncovered the mysteries surrounding this process. “.”.

Co-team leader Eryn Cangi, a scientist with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), stated in a statement that “water is really important for life.”. “We must comprehend the circumstances that sustain liquid water throughout the cosmos and may have led to Venus’s current extreme aridity.

“We’re attempting to determine what minute modifications took place on each planet to cause them to enter these wildly disparate states. “.

Could you lend me a cup of water, please?

Cangi explained that if all of the water on Earth were evenly distributed across its surface, it would create a global layer that is nearly two miles (3 point 2 kilometers) deep. This helped put the difference in water content between Earth and Venus into perspective. Applying the same principle to Venus, removing all of the water from the atmosphere would result in a global layer that is only 1.2 inches (3 cm) deep.

The statement was provided by Michael Chaffin, a fellow LASP scientist and co-team leader. “Venus has 100,000 times less water than the Earth, even though it’s basically the same size and mass.”.

Cangi, Chaffin, and associates used computer models of the planet, treating it akin to an enormous chemical laboratory, to uncover how it came to be in its current state. This made it possible for them to examine the various reactions that take place in Venus’ whirling atmosphere more closely and to pinpoint a possible culprit for the planet’s water loss.

The team’s findings indicated that the final remnants of Venus’ water may have been carried into space by a molecule known as HCO+, which is found high in the planet’s atmosphere and is made up of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms.

Cangi stated, “Let’s use an analogy where I empty the water out of my water bottle.”. “A few droplets would remain. “.

Essentially, these droplets may be being removed from Venus’ atmosphere by HCO+. Actually, the same group has previously proposed that HCO+ is also to blame for the water loss on Mars, Earth’s other neighbor.

Though these ions don’t last very long, the researchers claim that HCO+ is continuously produced in the Venusian atmosphere. When a molecule has extra electrons to produce a net negative charge in the molecule or lacks some electrons required to balance the positive charge of its protons, the result is an ion, which can be positively or negatively charged.

HCO+ is positively charged (thus the + symbol) because it lacks the electrons necessary to counteract the molecule’s protons’ positive charge.

Venus’s atmosphere contains electrons that quickly recombine with HCO+, splitting the molecule in half. The group contends that the hydrogen atoms then zip off, perhaps even escaping into space. Because hydrogen atoms make up two of the components of the water molecule (H2O), which is made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, Venus is deprived of its main source of water by this.

According to the team, Venus’s atmosphere had to contain an excess of HCO+ molecules for the planet to have reached its extreme dry state.

In fact, HCO+ ought to be among the most prevalent ions in the Venusian atmosphere, according to Chaffin, who stated that this research has produced some unexpected results.

But this conclusion has a significant flaw. HCO+ has never been observed in Venus’ atmosphere up to this point.

However, Chaffin and Cangi believe that’s not because the molecule isn’t there, but rather because we haven’t had the tools to see it. Many spacecraft from Earth have visited our neighbor Mars, but only a small number of missions have visited Venus, our other neighbor, and none of those missions had the necessary equipment to detect HCO+.

However, Venus is a target for several upcoming space missions. DAVINCI, a NASA mission, is especially significant because it investigates noble gases, chemistry, and imaging in the deep atmosphere of Venus. DAVINCI, which is scheduled to launch in 2029, will send a probe through Venus’s intense atmosphere to ascertain the planet’s chemical makeup.

Even DAVINCI won’t have the necessary tools, though, to identify HCO+.

However, the team hopes that DAVINCI (as well as the European Space Agency’s upcoming mission EnVision) will spark a general interest in Venus, which will ultimately result in a space mission that is indeed capable of detecting HCO+, verifying the team’s claims about water loss.

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