Transcripts of 12117ElectricWindofVenus1

I'm Glyn Collinson from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and I'm here today to tell you about the electric wind of Venus. So Venus is cool. Venus is awesome. Venus is in many ways one of the most Earth-like planets that we know of. One of the the key ways that it's different is that it's very very dry. With temperatures on the surface of 460 degrees Centigrade whatever that is in Fahrenheit. You would never expect there to be liquid oceans on the surface. That kind of temperature would only boils off that water into steam. But the atmosphere of Venus is incredibly dry so where did the steam go? So t talk about how we remove something from a planet, we're going to have to talk about two forces of nature. Firstly force of gravity. Gravity is the thing which is holding you down to the planet. But if you think about it, it is also what is holding the atmosphere down onto the planet as well. If I want to remove some of the oxygen from the planet, we have to overcome overcome that gravity. So to do that, I want to talk about the electric force. It's the thing which your device is using right now to pump electricity around its wires. It's pushing the electrons around the circuits. And what we think can happen is that the electric force can help push on the ions in the upper parts of the atmosphere push them off and up into space. So just as every planet has a gravity field, we think that every planet has a weak electric field. We went looking for Venus' electric field and boy-oh-boy did we find it. It turns out that Venus' electric field is at least five to ten times stronger than at Earth. It's a monster of a force. It can rip heavy things like oxygen straight out of the upper atmosphere and send them kicking and screaming off into space. This really changes the way we thing about planets because it turns out planets can lose heavy things like oxygen to space entirely through electrical forces in their ionospheres. This is something that is really important if we want to go looking for exoplanets or habitable planets around other stars. It is no good having conditions perfect for an ocean and an atmosphere where you might want to breath if some invisible force is going to come along a rip it all off into space. Only understanding how atmospheres evolve can we understand how we got here.