Venus Gets Weirder: CO2 Oceans May Have Covered Surface

Dec 30, 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL

By Charles Q. Choi

Venus may have once possessed strange oceans of carbon dioxide fluid that helped shape the planet’s surface, researchers say.

Venus is often described as Earth’s twin planet because it is the world closest to Earth in size, mass, distance and chemical makeup. However, whereas Earth is a haven for life, Venus is typically described as hellish, with a crushing atmosphere and clouds of corrosive sulfuric acid floating over a rocky desert surface hot enough to melt lead.

Although Venus is currently unbearably hot and dry, it might have once had oceans like Earth. Prior research suggested that Venus possessed enough water in its atmosphere in the past to cover the entire planet in an ocean about 80 feet deep (25 meters) — if all that water could somehow fall down as rain. But the planet was probably too warm for such water to cool down and precipitate, even if the planet did have enough moisture.

Instead of seas of water, then, scientists now suggest that Venus might have once possessed bizarre oceans of carbon dioxide fluid.

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3 comments on “Venus Gets Weirder: CO2 Oceans May Have Covered Surface

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    old-toy-boy says:

    When i first read this, i thought, surely, CO2 as a gas is a “fluid”, in which case, so what is the point of the article?

    I get it now, as the pressure increases (say as on Venus) the boiling point goes beyond about 100 bar and 300ºK after which it becomes a supercritical fluid having propoties f a liquid and a gas at the same time.

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  • I remember an old SF-story when all we knew about Venus was that it was a glistening white sphere. It said that the whole planet was covered with foam because the Venusians had saturated their oceans with detergents, just like we were busy to do. It was a warning from the times detergents were not biodegradable.

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