Instagram: The Electric Wind of Venus

  • Released Monday, June 20, 2016
  • ID: 12286

In many ways, Venus is the most similar planet to Earth. Not only are its size and gravity comparable to Earth’s, but there’s evidence that Venus once had lots of water – oceans’ worth! – in the distant past. So what happened? New NASA-funded research using data from ESA’s Venus Express reveal that it may have been Venus’ electric field that stripped the planet of water. Venus’ electric field is about 5-10 times stronger than Earth’s. That electric force is enough to rip particles – including the building blocks of water – out of Venus’ atmosphere. Over time, this “electric wind” could leave a watery planet bone-dry, making it a key factor in whether or not a planet is hospitable to life. Understanding this process will help scientists pinpoint where potentially habitable planets could be lurking around other stars.


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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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