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Jupiter ruined your chances of owning a house on Venus

Venus might have been a habitable planet, if not for Jupiter’s massive size.

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Artist’s impression of Venus, with an inset showing a representation of the phosphine molecules detected in the high cloud decks.

Artist’s impression of Venus, with an inset showing a representation of the phosphine molecules detected in the high cloud decks.

ESO, M. Kornmesser, L. Calçada & NASA, and JPL, Caltech

Venusmight have been a habitable planet if it wasn’t for Jupiter’s massive size and changing orbit.

What’s going on?

A new study from researchers at the University of California, Riverside, found that Venus might have been a habitable planet if Jupiter hadn’t changed its orbit early in its creation.

  • The researchers said Jupiter moved closer to the sun and then moved away when it was still in early stages of development. Due to the planet’s size, it thwarted Venus’ orbit.
  • Jupiter’s shift “likely triggered Venus onto a path toward its current, inhospitable state,” according to a release from UCR.

The researchers created a simulation model of the solar system. The model found that Venus has a near-perfect circular orbit — the most circular of any of the planets in the solar system, according to a release from UCR.

However, when Jupiter was closer to Venus, the orbit might have changed just enough to make it habitable.

  • “As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” UCR astrobiologist Stephen Kane said.

Life on Venus?

Scientists said in September that they noticed a mysterious trace of gas that might represent signs of life on Venus, which I wrote about for Deseret.com.

The scientists looked into the gas’ origins. And extraterrestrial life might be to blame.

If this signal is correct, there is a process on Venus we cannot explain that produces phosphine — and one of the hypotheses is that it’s life in the clouds of Venus. It’s far fetched, until it’s not. — Janusz Petkowski, an astrobiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked on the project.