Scientists analysing the data from the European Venus Express spacecraft now orbiting Earth's prodigal twin planet have been piecing together an understanding of why the climate on both worlds is so different. Professor Fred Taylor of Oxford University presented the scenario in a talk at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast on Wednesday 2nd April.
In the early stages of the Solar System, Venus seems to have evolved very rapidly compared to the Earth. Data from Venus Express supports the theory that the Earth’s twin once had significant volume of water covering the surface but it appears that these oceans were lost in a very short geological timescale. As a result of the loss of water, the geological evolution of the surface of Venus slowed right down because it was unable to develop plate tectonics like the Earth. Biological evolution was prevented altogether. Thus, in terms of Venus being another Earth in climate and habitability terms, it evolved too quickly at first, then too slowly.