Study: Venus Cannot Support Life Because of Jupiter

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hospitable / hɒˈspɪt ə bəl / (adj) – good for living creatures to survive and grow

    Earth’s temperature makes it a hospitable planet.

  2. orbit / ˈɔr bɪt / (n) – the curved path that a planet or other objects in outer space follow

    The strong gravity from the Sun keeps all the planets around it in their orbit.

  3. inhabitable / ɪnˈhæb ə tə bəl / (adj) – suitable to live in or on

    After being destroyed by the storm, the house is no longer inhabitable.

  4. drastic / ˈdræs tɪk / (adj) – sudden or extreme

    Many customers complained about the restaurant’s drastic price increase.

  5. density / ˈdɛn sɪ ti / (n) – the heaviness of an object in relation to its size

    As people get older, their bones lose density and strength.


Read the text below.

A recent study by scientists from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), found that Venus might have been hospitable if it were not for Jupiter.

Venus is known as the hottest planet in the solar system, with a surface temperature of almost 471 degrees Celsius. According to the new findings, Venus’s extreme heat and inability to host life likely resulted from Jupiter’s movements in the past. The scientists explained that during Jupiter’s early formation, the planet moved closer to the Sun before moving farther away again, changing the shape of Venus’s orbit.

To understand how the planets’ orbits affected one another, the scientists created a computer model of the solar system. The scientists also considered the measurement of how close to a perfect circle each planet’s orbit is.

According to the scientists, Venus has the most circular orbit out of all the planets. However, one billion years ago, when Jupiter was still closer to the sun, Venus’s orbit was more oval in shape. This means that Venus may have had a much lower temperature that could have made it inhabitable. The scientists further explained that as Jupiter migrated to its current position, it pushed Venus closer to the sun, resulting in a drastic change in its atmosphere and climate.

According to the scientists, studying the history of Venus is important because its size, composition, and density are similar to Earth’s. They said that understanding how Venus became an uninhabitable planet may help humans prevent the same thing from happening to Earth.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Which planet’s history do you think would be the most interesting to study? Why?
• Do you think that what happened to Venus might also happen to Earth? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Would you like to live on another planet in the solar system? Why or why not?
• Do you think scientists should find a way to make other planets in the solar system habitable? Why or why not?