back to article Venus home to lost cities left by long-dead aliens, says ESA

Venus could once have been a living world with watery surface oceans, according to the European Space Agency. The ESA says that data from its Venus Express probe in orbit above the second planet indicates that it "may even have begun its existence as a habitable planet similar to Earth". Concept art showing lightning strike on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I welcome our....

    ..... oh you know the rest.

  2. Stevie


    I see no report of oil reserves on Venus either.

    Clearly the water-starved sulphuric acid vapour that passes for an atmosphere now is the product of a long-dead civilization having burned up all their fossil fuels, terminally smoggifying their precious air while allowing runaway global warming to take hold because instead of acting to save themselves they were too busy arguing about e-mail, VASA's data and hockey sticks.

    Oh the Venusianity!

  3. John F***ing Stepp

    Oh just wait a few years.

    You will (really) not be able to tell the difference.

    (putting the smiley face up because; hello if it does happen then we will be dead.)

  4. PhilDin

    Not "only a theory"

    The idea that Venus once contained life is not a theory, it's a hypothesis. I know it sounds like nitpicking but this sloppy language usage is what allows the creationists to say that evolution is "only a theory". To be clear, to qualify for the moniker of theory, scientists would have to have suggested experiments to test the hypothesis, some of those experiments would have been carried out, there might be a mix of supporting, inconclusive and contrary outcomes of these experiments. If something is in the "difficult to test" phase then it's not yet qualified to be called a theory.

  5. Annihilator


    I used to have some of them blocking out light in my windows. Wait...

  6. Fred 4

    Well... Lets find out

    so... lets grab a few astroids, there is a collection of them floating out there - somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, a few wont be missed, and throw them at Venus.

    Stir up dust, and get the atmosphere to cool and rain out the cloud cover. This would likely cool Venus enough to allow rovers to hunt around.

    If our rovers dont find anything, then we can send some of the critters from the hydro-thermic vents that eat hydrogen sulfide. In a few thousand eons we might have a habitable second home.

    grenade because... there is no mushroom cloud

    1. Annihilator

      Throw asteroids

      Hmm.. I see a flaw with your plan - what if we hit the ancient ruined cities!

    2. Wize


      Some are speculating on the intelligent life from Venus moving over to Earth. What if they were at the same level as the sulphide eating critters level when they were made extinct. We could be their pets sent over to burn up resources not needed by them.

      They may not even be extinct. They could be waiting for us to warm up the planet first...

  7. ratfox

    Well, if Al Gore is right...

    At 2 degrees higher temperature per century, earth will be like Venus in only 20'000 years

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Obligatory Stross novel link

      For the weak end:

      1. Fred 4


        good read

    2. Luther Blissett


      Well spotted. The subtext is the warmist agenda, specifically supporting NASA Hanson's claims that Venus is the way it is because of the greenhouse effect. In fact, Venusian temperatures are consistent with its high atmospheric pressures and do not need any other dubious explanation.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        It is the greenhouse effect:

        "The CO2-rich atmosphere, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the Solar System, creating surface temperatures of over 460 °C (860 °F)."

        "The greenhouse effect is a process by which radiative energy leaving a planetary surface is absorbed by some atmospheric gases"

        It was called this long before global warming. The earth is subject to the greenhouse effect. It always has been. Saying otherwise puts you in the same group as people who complain "well its just a theory".

      2. Don Mitchell

        Learn some physics please

        Luther, I think Carl Sagan knew a bit more physics than you, when he proposed the greenhouse theory for Venus. But then the average household pet probably knows more physics than you. Compressing a gas will raise its temperature, but being continuously under pressure does not continuously generate heat. Your suggestion that the high pressure is the cause of the high temperature of Venus displays a conceptual misunderstanding.

      3. Steven Jones

        Atmospheric pressure

        Luther, you are willfully ignorant. You can have incredibly high atmospheric pressures without it being hot - you just need to look at the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Venus is super hot for two reasons - first it's closer to the Sun than we are, secondly because the very dense atmosphere traps much of the heat . Or to be technically more accurate, the temperature has to be considerably higher for Venus to reach thermal equilibrium when the heat received from the Sun is balanced by that radiated into space (ignoring the relatively small thermal output of any geothermal activity). Of course a thick atmosphere does have high surface pressures, but pressure itself does not create heat once thermal equilibrium has been met (just a way of saying that if you compress hair it will heat it up, but that will be lost over time).

        In fact it is a very good job that we do have a modest greenhouse effect on Earth or the planet would most likely be too cool to support life.

  8. Blake St. Claire

    Canada is somewhat trans-Atlantic?

    Is that like being "sort of pregnant" ?

  9. VeganVegan

    I, for one,

    mourn our previous Venusian overlords.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong race

    Venusians couldn't exist. Inhabitants of Venus would be Venerians.

    1. dr_forrester

      Very true.

      However, Venerian is rarely used except by SF writers/readers and pedants, due to its similarity with "venereal." Shouldn't be, of course, but that's the way it is.

      1. Gerry Doyle 1

        Venereal is the word

        Venereal refers to the same thing and comes from the same root, *ahem*.

        Venereal diseases are so-called because they are diseases of Venus, the goddess of love - the original incurable romantics...

    2. Linker3000
      Paris Hilton


      ..and maybe they died from a disease?

      /Paris...because she's from Venus ... and not because of any crude attempt to associate her with diseases of any kind.

  11. wobblestar

    Escape from Venus

    Aware of the coming catastrophe, they venusiformed Earth. First they introduced simple archae, then more complex forms. Many perished in the Burgess shales.

    Eventually, the oceans of Earth were fit for Venusians and the land for their hominid pets. We turned on them and hunted then down with exploding harpoons.

  12. David Ramsay

    Now lets hypothesise ...

    EON's ago the sun was a much smaller star and the heat radiating from it meant that a planet much closer to the sun was lush and warm and this encouraged life to form and it was a good life.

    After many millennia life ended up as intelligent, even being able to travel through space. This ability to travel was fortunate for the inhabitants since the sun was starting to cool and started to expand, this caused the temperatures to rise over centuries on the planet and finally a few explorers set off on a journey.

    This journey led them to a planet within the same solar system which was similar to their own planet excepting that this new planet was far cooler, indeed similar to how their own planet had been millennia ago, it also had beings which were very primitive and it was decided that the new planet could be colonised and that their race could continue on the new planet.

    Over time the knowledge of how they managed to colonise and expand on the planet was lost as they integrated with the inhabitants. Over further millennia it was shown that a similar problem with regard to temperature and habitability was starting to occur on their new planet (but they had forgotten their past history and thought that they were causing the warming).

    Fortunately for the inhabitants they were just starting to be able to explore the solar system and ...

    PS Just in case its MY copyright!

    1. Chris 35


      I'm sure I've read a couple of short sci-fi stories that follow that plot almost to the letter.

      1. wobblestar


        Yeah, My idea. Two minutes earlier.

  13. Fred 4


    how did the atmospheric pressures get so high, if as is claimed in the article, Venus had water it does not seem to have?

    Saying that life may have existed at one time implies, at least to me, a more hospitable (at least proteins) environment than 700+ degree surface temps and 100s(?) of [Earth] atmospheres of pressure at the surface.

    If this is the case, how did Venus' atmosphere become the "hell on Venus" that it is today?

    1. fred #257

      Life on Venus?

      The temperature is a problem, I think, since most organic compounds break down at such temperatures. (BUT I'm not a chemist).

      But the pressure is probably no worry, for a suitably evolved life form. Life exists at depths in our oceans under far greater pressure.

      So, for life, the planet would need to have been a great deal cooler, but the atmospheric pressure could have been the same as now.

    2. Black Betty

      No plate techtonics. No binding atmospheric CO2... the rocks. Past a certain point any CO2 bound up in rock bakes out and it's all over red rover.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    New sci fi series in the making?

    hehe, neat idea.

    Now can someone please fund this, I'd like to see it on TV already.

    Its AC, Jim, but not as we know it...

  15. Fred 4

    where to now?

    from here - there is no place to go -

    Mars is too small - even if Solar warming got it to a reasonable temperature, it cant hold a decent atmosphere.

    Jupiter... too big, too much gravity. Too much stuff (atmosphere) as well.

    One of the moons? maybe - but they are all small too, same problem as Mars, cant hold an atmosphere.

    Titan? - it would be the next & last step, in this solar system. However, it is so far out, that Solar warming, and Saturian reflection would not be enough heat. At least not until Sol becomes a red giant - something like 1.5 billion years. I fear it will be a little too late by then.

    The only other option would be vary hard. Build a planet. There is the rubble in the astroid belt. Mars, Luna, Phobos, and Deimos. Combined, there might be enough mass to hold decent atmosphere.

    But my first observation on this idea is : We cant even plug a leak in an oil well......

    So... save this one, or give up.

    as National Lampoon so nicely put it :

    With all its hopes, Dreams, promises, and urban renewal,

    The World continues to deteriorate.

    Give up !

    You are a Fluke of the universe...

    You have no right to be here...

    Whether you can hear it or not,

    the universe is laughing behind your back...

    Deteriorata (

    Pirates because - if we move, we'll have to watch out for Space Pirates :)

  16. gimbal
    Thumb Up

    Ok, Goldilocks ><

    @Fred 4: I suppose you've never climbed a mountain simply because it was there, friend?

    Adventure and innovation tend to go pretty well hand-in-hand together, when adequately backed by industry. Sometimes science has to be a little adventurous, as well.

    It begs the question, at least nearly enough: So who will be the first Lewis & Clark of the solar system beyond earth's so-comfortable climes?

    1. Chemist

      Bull droppings

      I agree with Fred & I HAVE climbed many mountains.

  17. Anonymous John

    Why should Venus be Earthlike?

    1) It's closer to the Sun.

    2) Its days are 243 Earth days long.

    3) It doesn't seem to have plate tectonics.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Earth-like venus

      Venus isn't hot because its closer to the Sun : its clouds reflect most of the heat. It absorbs 60% of the solar energy that Earth aborbs.

      Its hotter because the greenhouse effect traps the heat it does have.

      Now this wasn't always true - it used to have a more Earth-like climate, and then it _was_ warmer due to solar heating.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Good Old Euro-Bashing

    All the alien-life-form conjecture is the work of the author of this article. If it weren't for the french-dominated ESA, Britain would not even be able to lift a banana into orbit.

    Well, the merkin's converted SS-scientists would have lobbed one British banana into space as a courtesy, I guess.

  19. Sirius Lee

    There's no tectonic activity

    My recollection is that one of the differences between the two planets is that Venus doesn't have any tectonic activity so there's no carbon recycling (or recycling of other compounds in the atmosphere). Also, it doesn't have a moon. That's pretty big difference. On earth it provides a cyclical challenge which is hypothesised to have contributed to the creation of life on earth and it helps stabilize earth's axis of rotation.

    Maybe small points but may be the basis of some of the observed differences.

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