New research supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program indicates that Jupiter may be responsible for turning Venus from a habitable world similar to Earth into the water-less, hot planet we see today.

As Jupiter formed in the early Solar System, the orbit of the giant planet moved toward and away from the Sun at different times before coming to rest in its current position beyond the asteroid belt. Due to its incredible size, the movement of Jupiter in the early Solar System had a gravitational effect on other planets, including Venus. The team of scientists believe that this interaction could have accelerated the evolution of Venus’ atmosphere, leading the planet to become the inhospitable world we know today.

A press release concerning this research is available from the University of California at Riverside:

The study, “Could the Migration of Jupiter Have Accelerated the Atmospheric Evolution of Venus?” was published in the Planetary Science Journal. The work was supported by the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS).  NExSS is a NASA  research coordination network supported in part by the  NASA Astrobiology Program. This program element is shared between NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) and the Astrophysics Division.