We tend to think of Mars as one of the few planets that, like Earth, may have (or have had) the potential to hold life, but our infernal sister-planet Venus may have also once had oceans.

New simulations from the Journal of Geological Research: Planets found that the planet oft-touted as exemplar of a runaway greenhouse effect, may have once formed an ocean. These findings, published online July 18, hypothesize that an optimal blend of cloud cover, carbon dioxide and water early in Venus’ lifetime would have been hospitable to life.

Venus in Autumn

Although Michael Way, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, wasn’t involved in the study himself, last year he and his colleagues surmised that Venus’ ultra-slow rotation — consisting of 116 Earth days — may have aided in the build-up of cloud cover such that the average temperature roughly 715 million years ago would have been a cool 15°C (59°F). Compared to Venus’ present-day explosive 460°C (860°F), these conditions are truly astounding and worthy of further exploration.

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