Updated April 12th, 2024 at 22:04 IST

Venus is Leaking: European Probe Makes Startling Discovery About Planet

Gases like Oxygen and carbon are being stripped away from upper layers of the planet Venus' atmosphere, said a study.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Venus is Leaking: European Probe Makes Startling Discovery About Planet | Image:Unsplash
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New Delhi: Gases like Oxygen and carbon are being stripped away from upper layers of the planet Venus' atmosphere, said a study by Europeana and Japanese BepiColombo mission to Venus, Europlanet Society reported.  

According to a study published in Nature Astronomy journal, carbon and oxygen ions were escaping from the undiscovered region of the planet's magnetic environment. 

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The study stated that these scenarios can have significant impact on teh evolution of the Venus' atmosphere, specifically, teh evolution of water on the planet's surface. 

Over a 90-minute period of observations, BepiColombo’s instruments measured the number and mass of charged particles it encountered, capturing information about the chemical and physical processes driving atmospheric escape in the flank of the magnetosheath, as per the study. 

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Early in its history, Venus had many similarities to Earth, including significant amounts of liquid water. Interactions with the solar wind have stripped away the water, leaving an atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide and smaller amounts of nitrogen and other trace species. Previous missions, including NASA’s Pioneer Venus Orbiter and ESA’s Venus Express have made detailed studies of the type and quantity of molecules and charged particles that are lost into space.

However, the missions’ orbital paths left some areas around Venus unexplored and many questions still unanswered.

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“Characterising the loss of heavy ions and understanding the escape mechanisms at Venus is crucial to understand how the planet’s atmosphere has evolved and how it has lost all its water,” Dominique Delcourt, researcher at LPP and the Principal Investigator of the MSA instrument, was quoted as saying by Europlanet Society. 

Lina Hadid, CNRS researcher at the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP) and lead author of the study was quoted as saying by Europlanet Society: “This is the first time that positively charged carbon ions have been observed escaping from Venus’s atmosphere. These are heavy ions that are usually slow moving, so we are still trying to understand the mechanisms that are at play. It may be that an electrostatic ‘wind’ is lifting them away from the planet, or they could be accelerated through centrifugal processes.”

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“Characterising the loss of heavy ions and understanding the escape mechanisms at Venus is crucial to understand how the planet’s atmosphere has evolved and how it has lost all its water,” said Dominique Delcourt, researcher at LPP and the Principal Investigator of the MSA instrument. 

A fleet of spacecraft will investigate Venus over the next decade, including ESA’s Envision mission, NASA’s VERITAS orbiter and DAVINCI probe, and India’s Shukrayaan orbiter. Collectively, these spacecraft will provide a comprehensive picture of the Venusian environment, from the magnetosheath, down through the atmosphere to the surface and interior.

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“Recent results suggest that the atmospheric escape from Venus cannot fully explain the loss of its historical water content. This study is an important step to uncover the truth about the historical evolution of the Venusian atmosphere, and upcoming missions will help fill in many gaps,” added co-author, Moa Persson of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

 

 

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Published April 12th, 2024 at 22:04 IST