Venus Earth Atmosphere Habitable Zone
Photo credit: Ittiz | CC BY-SA 3.0
NASA researchers claim that Venus could have been temperate planet hosting liquid water with an Earth-like atmosphere for around 2-3 billion years, until a dramatic transformation starting over 700 million years ago that resurfaced 80% of the planet. The Pioneer Venus mission that the planet may have once had a shallow ocean’s worth of water and to see if this was true, Dr. Way and his colleague, Anthony Del Genio, created a series of five simulations assuming different levels of water coverage. Read more for a video and additional information.

In the five simulations, they found that Venus was able to maintain stable temperatures between a maximum of about 50 degrees Celsius and a minimum of about 20 degrees Celsius for around three billion years. This temperate climate could be maintained on Venus today if there wasn’t a series of events that caused a release of carbon dioxide stored in the rocks of the planet approximately 700-750 million years ago.

“Our hypothesis is that Venus may have had a stable climate for billions of years. It is possible that the near-global resurfacing event is responsible for its transformation from an Earth-like climate to the hellish hot-house we see today,” said Way.