Why Venus died the heat death – and the Earth did not Life

Why Venus died the heat death – and the Earth did not

Venus, Earth's hot little sister, was probably once habitable, too, a long time ago. It basically orbits in the habitable zone. Surface temperatures of 450 degrees would actually not be expected there, were it not for the dense CO2 atmosphere that heats up the planet with its greenhouse effect. But why did this happen on Venus - and not on Earth so far? Volcanism is probably to blame, as researchers show in a new paper. According to the paper, volcanic activity that lasted hundreds to thousands of centuries and ejected massive amounts of material may have helped transform Venus…
What NASA is up to in the clouds of Venus Space

What NASA is up to in the clouds of Venus

In nine years (2031), our hot neighboring planet Venus will be visited by NASA's DAVINCI mission (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging). In a paper, the scientists and engineers involved have now explained what the probe is supposed to do. As its name suggests, it is primarily concerned with the planet's dense atmosphere, in which - unlike on the hot surface - conditions are expected to be favorable even for life. Davinci is therefore primarily a flying chemistry laboratory. Due mission consists of an orbiter (CRIS, carrier, relay and imaging spacecraft) and a lander. The…
Clouds on Venus Space

Clouds on Venus

Venus, Earth's hot sister and the setting for my book "Clouds of Venus", is completely enveloped in a dense atmosphere with numerous layers of clouds. Nevertheless, it has much in common with Earth. Both planets are similar in size and mass, they are both in the same orbital region known as the habitable zone, they both have solid surfaces and dense atmospheres. Therefore, studying weather on Venus can help researchers better understand weather on Earth as well. To do this, it would be important to be able to observe cloud movement on Venus day and night. However, nighttime has…
Tectonic movements on Venus Space

Tectonic movements on Venus

Three missions will soon be visiting Venus. What is there to see there? Well, for example, something like tectonics, movements in the planet's crust. Mars and Earth's moon don't have anything like that. But Venus does, as a paper now states. "We have identified a previously unrecognized pattern of tectonic deformation on Venus that is driven by internal motions just as it is on Earth," says Paul Byrne, associate professor of planetary science at North Carolina State University and lead and co-lead author of the paper. "Although it's different from the tectonics we currently see on Earth, it's still evidence…
BepiColombo photographs Venus in flight Life

BepiColombo photographs Venus in flight

The ESA-JAXA mission BepiColombo has completed the first of two flybys of Venus needed to put it on course for the innermost planet of the solar system, Mercury. The closest approach to the Earth's hot sister took place this morning (15. 10.) at 03:58 GMT at a distance of about 10 720 km from the planet's surface. Launched on 20 October 2018, the spacecraft will require nine gravity assist fly-bys - one to Earth, two to Venus and six to Mercury - before it can enter orbit around Mercury in 2025. The flybys will use the gravitational pull of…
Signs of life from the clouds of Venus? Life

Signs of life from the clouds of Venus?

Our hot sister planet, Venus, basically has no potential for life on its surface – the pressure and temperature are much too high. Nevertheless, in “The Clouds of Venus,” a team from NASA made an interesting discovery. I was reminded of this when I read a new press release from Cardiff University. Astronomer Jane Greaves and her colleagues have been analyzing Venus’s atmosphere for years and stumbled across an interesting substance: phosphane (older, but chemically incorrect name: phosphine). On Earth, phosphane, a compound of phosphorus and hydrogen (PH3), is a gas produced predominantly by anaerobic biological sources. The conditions on…
NASA wants to visit Triton, Io, and Venus Space

NASA wants to visit Triton, Io, and Venus

NASA has unveiled four new research missions that could set flight under the Discovery Program – if their feasibility can be confirmed. They highlight three locations that you will already know from my books: Venus (two proposals), Io, and Triton. However, a maximum of two of the four proposals will be developed. Here are the details: DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus) DAVINCI+ will analyze Venus’s atmosphere in order to understand how it formed and developed and whether Venus ever had an ocean. To do this, DAVINCI+ will plunge into Venus’s inhospitable atmosphere and…
Gliding in the clouds of Venus: NASA studies two Venus missions Life

Gliding in the clouds of Venus: NASA studies two Venus missions

Every year, NASA uses the “NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts” program (NIAC) to finance interesting projects that might someday become a reality. Projects in Phase 1 are subject to a nine-month study on their general feasibility, while in Phase 2, projects receive a two-year grant to develop their designs in detail. At the end, they aren’t required to be commercially marketable just yet – the transition to that level of development is done in Phase 3. Currently, the list includes two projects whose destination is Venus, Earth’s hellish little sister. (more…)