A Swiftly Heating Planet
Spacecraft heads to Venus to get clues about global warming
Venus coulda been a contenda. It’s just a little closer to the sun than Earth, just a little smaller, and once had plentiful water. But instead of evolving life in a tropical paradise, the oceans started heating up and evaporating, trapping the planet in an unending cycle of warming that’s resulted in a burning hellscape of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that! Ahem. But just to hedge bets, spacecraft Venus Express, sent by the European Space Agency, is orbiting the second rock from the sun to “find out why Venus evolved so differently to Earth,” according to a member of the project team. The ship will study the relationship between the atmosphere’s layers and the planet itself to get clues about how to avoid runaway global warming on our own orb. ‘Cause we’re not hot about the idea of Venus’ average temperature of 872 degrees.