A new study argues that the extreme environmental conditions present on Venus today could have been avoided if Jupiter didn’t influence the orbit of the planet. With a total mass that is equal to 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in the solar system, Jupiter can influence orbits.
During its youth, Jupiter moved closer to the sun and then retreated due to the way in which the planetary formation disk works as well as the presence of other planets. Previous research has shown that giant planets tend to move after formation.
The presence of liquid water is perceived as a prime requirement for the capability to host life. While Venus might have lost some water and could have lost a larger amount in the long run, Jupiter’s force may have set Venus on the path to becoming a desolate wasteland.
An interesting fact is represented by the orbit followed by Venus, which is almost fully circular. The researchers who elaborated the study wanted to see if this was always the case, and what would have been different if the planet followed a different orbit.
Most circular orbit
To measure the circularity of an orbit, scientists use a scale between 0, or completely circular, and 1, or completely not circular. The orbit followed by Venus measures 0.006, which means that it is the most circular out of all the planets present in the solar system.
However, more one billion years ago, Venus would have had an eccentricity of 0.3, and the chances of being more habitable are considerably higher. Jupiter’s migration compromised the climate of Venus, leading to massive temperature variations and the loss of liquid water. A recent discovery suggests that microbes could be found in the clouds that float above Venus, and some argue that they may be the last survivor on a barren planet.
The study was published in a scientific journal.