Venus May Have Been Just Like Earth For BIllions Of Years

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Venus May Have Been Just Like Earth For BIllions Of Years

The temperatures on Venus are hot enough to melt lead, and the planet rotates at 60 times the speed of Earth. Though it may be hellish today, Venus probably wasn't always such a scorching hot mess. In fact, scientists now believe that Earth's sister planet may have been habitable for billions of years. The planets are similar in size and density, and about 2.9 billion years ago, they were more similar in climate too. Michael Way of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and his team made these discoveries after they applied the first three-dimensional climate model to an early Venus. This model uses the same computer simulations used to predict human-caused climate change on our planet and found that about 2.9 billion years ago, Venus had a cool climate of around 51°F. Pushing the clock forward to 715 years ago, Venus' climate only rose to around 59°F. The planet was likely able to stay cool and maintain liquid oceans for so long because of clouds. Learn more about the extreme conditions of Venus today in the videos below.

Venus Flytraps Catch Their Prey By Counting

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Venus Flytraps Catch Their Prey By Counting

A 2015 study has found that Venus flytraps recognize, ensnare, and digest their prey by "counting" the number of times the insect brushes against its sensory hairs. A fly that brushes its leg against the plant's hair only once could live another day. But a second brush is crucial: it prompts the flytrap to send water into its leaves, which can snap shut over the fly in a tenth of a second. As the trapped insect continues to struggle against the hairs, the plant continues to receive electrical impulses from the contact. The fifth impulse is the next important one, and it prompts the fly trap to produce digestive enzymes.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Venus flytraps translate touches from potential prey into electrical waves. 0:38

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    As a captured insect struggles inside a Venus flytrap, its motions trigger the plant to release digestive enzymes. 1:15

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    The Venus flytrap recognizes and consumes prey by "counting" the number of times its touch-sensitive hairs are stimulated. 2:13

The Sun Will One Day Consume Mercury And Venus

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The Sun Will One Day Consume Mercury And Venus

Life on Earth came to be billions of years ago, shortly after the planet cooled and liquid water became available. But according to researchers, we only have about one billion years left until life on the surface of Earth is wiped out. Our sun is growing hotter and hotter, and eventually surface life on Earth will be obliterated by the sun's growing radiation. Life beneath the surface, however, has a little more time. The reserves of water deep underground will be able to protect microbial life for billions of years after life on Earth's surface dies off. Meanwhile, in the next 5 billion years, the sun will consume both Mercury and Venus.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Life on Earth appeared shortly after the planet cooled and liquid water became available. 0:03

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    We have less than a billion years to enjoy the surface of Earth before it becomes inhospitable. 0:46

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    Reserves of water deep underground will protect microbial life for billions of years after life on Earth's surface dies off. 2:22

Carnivorous Sponges: The Venus Flytraps Of The Sea

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Carnivorous Sponges: The Venus Flytraps Of The Sea

Carnivorous sponges typically live in the deep sea. Unlike other sponges, they aren't filter-feeders, and instead feed on the unfortunate crustaceans that become caught on their velcro-like hooks. The sponges don't have a stomach or digestive system, so they slowly eat their prey at the cellular level: individual cells travel to, cover, and digest their catches. There are more than 100 species of carnivorous sponge known to science.

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from MBARI

Key Facts to Know

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    Sponges typically feed on bacteria and single-celled organisms that they sift out of water currents. 0:26

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    The individual cells of carnivorous sponges engulf and digest caught prey. 1:03

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    Carnivorous sponges have probably been around for about 200 million years. 3:15

The Harsh Conditions of Venus, Earth's Sister Planet

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The Harsh Conditions of Venus, Earth's Sister Planet

Scientists believe Venus was primarily covered by oceans billions of years ago. Eventually, the planet became so heated its oceans evaporated away.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Venus' rotation goes from East to West. 0:22

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    Billions of years ago, scientists believe Venus was primarily covered by oceans. 1:51

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    Eventually the planet became so heated its oceans evaporated away. 2:33