Scientists from NASA have reported that all indications are that Earth’s twin may still be volcanically active, and this is amazing news as this is now a rarity throughout the Solar System.
That’s the news after analyzing the latest data acquired over the past few years while the Venus Express probe, which belongs to the European Space Agency, was studying the planet. The last volcanic eruptions there may have occurred just a few years ago.
Scientists came to such conclusions based on studies of lava flows on the surface of Venus. In their experiments, they used olivine crystals, which are commonly found in volcanic rocks. Similarly, this is also the case on Venus. The Venus Express probe spotted the reddish-black mineral hematite on the planet’s surface.
During the study, olivine was heated to 900 degrees Celsius, the temperature found inside Venus, and a few days later, the minerals had just become covered in the reddish-black mineral hematite. Astronomers have announced that the last eruptions at the ESA survey site could have happened just a few years ago.
It is very likely that eruptions could be occurring in other parts of the planet even now. Scientists want to get more valuable data from the Venus Express spacecraft to confirm this definitively. They will also soon conduct further experiments with other minerals that have been detected both on the surface and in the atmosphere of this still fascinating planet.
Interestingly, NASA recently announced that simple life forms may exist in Venus’ dense atmosphere. Conditions there are ideal for them. Once, when our planet formed, it was in its atmosphere that dynamic processes took place that later resulted in the emergence of life.
Temperatures on the surface of Venus reach up to 460 degrees Celsius, volcanoes erupt and leaden rain falls. These are too extreme conditions for life to exist as we know it on our planet, but there are areas in the atmosphere where microorganisms can survive. The greenhouse effect found on Venus could be a bonus for them to produce energy and survive.
Astronomers have discovered dark clouds in the planet’s atmosphere. Until now, they have been one big mystery. But a closer look has revealed that they are called “absorbers,” or areas that absorb the most ultraviolet light. It turns out that these mysterious “particles” have similar abilities to the microorganisms found in Earth’s atmosphere.
A few billion years ago, Venus’ atmosphere was more like Earth’s, and there were likely significant amounts of liquid water on the surface, but the evaporation of these primordial oceans has caused an exponentially increasing greenhouse effect, up to critical levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Astrobiologists believe that despite the inferno in the atmosphere, we may be dealing with common groups of microscopic life that have been quietly evolving there for billions of years.
Most likely as a result of billions of years of rapid changes, life moved there from the surface to the dense atmosphere, where it adapted to the conditions there. There is also the option that, thanks to space rocks, organisms from Venus and Mars could have made their way to Earth and started the life that is so common today on our beautiful planet.