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Venus may have had an ocean

Screengrab via YouTube, NASA

New scientific findings reveal that "the now-hellish planet," Venus, could have had water on its surface early on, per Science News.

How it may have happened: Simulations studied "the delicate interplay of cloud cover, carbon dioxide and water" that may have produced a watery surface on the planet. In some scenarios, Venus would need fairly little water, just 10% of the mass of Earth's oceans, to create its own seas. The dry planet seen today could be due to the water boiling away or getting "reinjected into part of the planet's interior," if it was even there to begin with. The results were published last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. It supports past research suggesting Venus' slow rotation could have promoted cloud cover and cool temperatures.

Why it matters: Astrophysicist Michael Way, who was not involved with the study, told Science News that this discovery "plays into a much bigger puzzle of understanding the habitability of exoplanets."

Update: a previous version of this story mis-identified the name of the journal.

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