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When Venus And Mars Became Uninhabitable Planets?

If you could travel back in time to the early stages of the Solar System, some 4.5 billion years ago, you wouldn't find one life-friendly world, but three. Venus, Earth, and Mars all looked very similar from a planetary perspective, as they all had substantial surface gravity and atmospheres similar to Earth's in thickness. There were volcanoes, watery oceans, and complex interactions that enabled these worlds to retain the heat they absorbed from the Sun.

Moreover, the compositions of their atmosphere were similar, all rich in hydrogen, ammonia, methane, nitrogen and water vapor. For a time, conditions were favorable to life arising on all three worlds, but it didn't last. Venus experienced a runaway greenhouse effect, boiling its oceans after perhaps 200 million years. But Mars lasted far longer before becoming inhospitable: over a billion years. These are their stories.

It's remarkable that worlds that are so different from one another might have had such similar histories in their early stages. Both Earth and Mars likely experienced catastrophic early collisions, with Earth's creating our Moon and Mars's creating three moons, the largest of which likely fell back onto Mars at a later date.

All three worlds — Venus, Earth, and Mars — were shaped by external impacts and internal geologic processes, formed mountain ranges atop extensive highlands, and great basins stretching across the dramatic lowlands. They had molten, liquid interiors, which caused large amounts of volcanic eruptions, adding both volatiles and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and creating relatively smooth ocean bottoms. The liquid water that survived became planet-wide oceans, completely covering the lowland areas.

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