Lush Venus? Searing Earth? It Could Have Happened, Researchers Say
Can anyone imagine a stagnant Earth while life thrives in a different planet? A new study reveals that if conditions were a bit different, Venus could have been teeming with life while Earth could have been a dead planet devoid of life.
Researchers from Rice University suggest that the idea is not impossible if conditions were different eons ago.The study suggests that there might be plentiful life on Venus and none on Earth. The paper on life-sustaining planets was published in the journal of Astrobiology.
According to the researchers, in the near future, they can create a model with the help of observing the solar system, to show how "minor" evolutionary changes could have altered the fate of planets, a scenario where Venus is lush with life while Earth is searing and dead.
"For a long time we've been living, effectively, in one experiment, our solar system," Adrian Lenardic of Rice University said in the study. "Although the paper is about planets, in one way it's about old issues that scientists have: the balance between chance and necessity, laws and contingencies, strict determinism and probability," Lenardic added.
The idea was once a philosophical question, but with the emergence of technologies to help scientists observe the Solar System, the question involving the fate of Venus and Earth have evolved to a scientific question with a hint of possibility.
Lenardic also suggests that there might be habitable planets outside the known "Goldilocks zone" in extra-solar systems where planets are both closer and nearer to their Suns than the Earth, and they may possess conditions suitable for life. Goldilocks zone are the region around a star that is not too warm or not too cold where water and atmosphere can thrive, but due to limited knowledge and comparison, very little is known about Solar Systems aside from the Earth's own.
"If we find a planet (in another solar system) sitting where Venus is that actually has signs of life, we'll know that what we see in our solar system is not universal," Lenardic said in a statement published by Science Daily.
The study further suggests that life on Earth exist not because of the conditions set by the Goldilocks zone, and minor alterations to the environment could have made this planet inhabitable; the opposite goes with Earth's nearest companion, Venus.
The researchers would like to expand their knowledge on extra-solar systems by using innovative telescopes to find other planetary systems and possibly even signs of life outside what is known to man today.