Have you ever wondered why Earth's "sister world" Venus is a lifeless desert and whether her fate portends our own? These questions and more are up for discussion next Thursday, January 29, when Carroll math and astronomy professor Dr. Kelly Cline presents, "The Climate Paradox: Venus, Earth, and Mars," at 7 p.m. in Simperman Hall's Wiegand Auditorium, room 101-202. It is free and open to the public.
What lies beneath Venus' clouds of burning acid? Farther out from Earth, why is Mars a frozen desert? Four billion years ago, just after the sun and planets formed, the Earth, Venus, and Mars were probably very similar planets with comparable atmospheres and temperatures. Today, they could not be more different. Venusian volcanoes have created a hellish nightmare, with a surface temp hot enough to melt lead. Meanwhile, Martian volcanism has ceased, leaving behind only a tenuous atmosphere, not thick enough to support liquid water. Earth stands alone as a lifegiving oasis, and astronomers are gathering stronger evidence that somehow the Earth's oceans managed to balance our atmosphere and climate, keeping us at a comfortable temperature and allowing living things of all stripes to form and evolve. NASA has a lot of exciting plans for further neighbor-planet exploration, which will teach us not only about Mars and Venus but also about our Earth and why it works so well. Dr. Cline will also regale his audience with an update on the recent discoveries about the methane gas found in the atmosphere of Mars and whether this may be evidence of life on the Red Planet.
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