Today, scientists describe conditions on Venus as ‘hellish.’ But, there may have been a time when oceans covered the planet’s surface according to a new study.
These oceans would have been nothing like those seen on Earth. Scientists believe Venus’ oceans may have been made up of carbon dioxide. At one point, Venus may have had enough water in its atmosphere to cover the entire surface of the planet in an ocean nearly 80 feet deep.
Due to the extreme temperatures on Venus, scientists theorize Venus was covered in weird oceans of carbon dioxide fluid.
The scientists conducting the study were particularly interested in carbon dioxide in a ‘supercritical’ state according to Space.com. Under extreme pressure and temperatures, carbon dioxide can enter this ‘supercritical’ state. This would have given carbon dioxide the properties of both a liquid and a gas.
The atmospheric pressure on the surface of Venus is many times higher than it is on Earth. It’s the equivalent of being 1 kilometer below the ocean’s surface on Earth.
Millions of years ago it could have been even higher. This extreme pressure may have led to the formation of supercritical carbon dioxide and oceans on the surface of Venus according to Dima Bolmatov (lead study author).
Bolamtov told Space.com, “This in turn makes it plausible that geological features on Venus like rift valleys, riverlike beds, and plains are the fingerprints of near-surface activity of liquidlike supercritical carbon dioxide.”
While Venus may have once had strange oceans of carbon dioxide, today it’s a barren landscape with periods of volcanism.
Image credits: ESA, Study