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Venus' 'electric winds' blew Earth-like oceans into space: NASA
The Washington Post and Postmedia Network
First posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 02:07 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 02:17 PM EDT
Venus likely had Earth-like oceans millions of years ago -- before "electric winds" sucked the planet bone dry, NASA scientists say.
Chemical hints are all that is left of oceans on our nearly-twin planet, partly due to highly charge winds that blew all its oxygen into space.
"It's amazing, shocking," NASA's Glyn Collinson, an expert in atmospheric electric fields and an author of the new study, said in a statement. "We never dreamt an electric wind could be so powerful that it can suck oxygen right out of an atmosphere into space."
The scientists are not entirely sure why the electric wind is so strong on Venus, but they believe it could be the close proximity to the sun. And that finding puts a wrench into possible plans to colonize Venus.
It also means exoplanets scientists keep discovering around other stars that might be suitable for habitation also might suffer from strong, oxygen-destroying electric winds.
"This is something that has to be on the checklist," Collinson said, "when we go looking for habitable planets around other stars."
If Earth was born with a twin, out of all the planets in the solar system it should have been Venus. (Krystofer Kim/NASA Goddard Conceptual Image Lab)

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