NASA: 'Electric Wind' May Be Responsible For Stripping Venus Of Oceans, Atmosphere

  • 8 years ago
NASA-funded research recently revealed a likely culprit in the loss of oceans and atmosphere on Venus– incredibly strong electric wind.

Venus is known to be a very hot planet with temperatures around 850 degrees Fahrenheit, so researchers have never been too shocked that its oceans dried up long ago.
What has left them a bit stumped is what happened to all of the atmospheric oxygen ions that should be present after such massive evaporation. 
NASA-funded research recently revealed the likely culprit – incredibly strong electric wind. 
While the force is a notable one and can make quick work of whisking away evaporated water’s hydrogen, oxygen ion depletion is typically considered beyond its capabilities. 
Said NASA scientists Glyn Collinson, “It’s amazing, shocking. We never dreamt an electric wind could be so powerful that it can suck oxygen right out of an atmosphere into space.” 
The researchers discovered the unexpected agent of loss when observing electron flow patterns via a spectrometer on the ESA Venus Express’ ASPERA-4 instrument. 
Movement was occurring at an unexpected pace, and further investigation revealed the anomaly was due to the pull of the planet’s more robust than anticipated electric field. 
Collinson noted, “We don’t really know why it is so much stronger at Venus than Earth…” 
Nonetheless, due to their discovery, the team does think electric wind is something that should be considered in evaluating other planets, particularly in terms of their habitability.