By S. Chandrasekhar
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Extra info for Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium
At least, the present lack of these features, as evidence of early magnetism and even polar reversals have been revealed through the analysis of magnetically sensitive minerals in the planet’s surface. It seems that about four billion years ago, Mars possessed both plate tectonics and a global magnetic field, but the nature of the thick crust and a drying of the planet prevented these processes from continuing.
A second line of evidence concerns an otherwise mysterious drop in the sulfur dioxide levels in the Venusian atmosphere between 1978 and 1986. The concentrations fell by a factor of ten which is not easily explained unless the earlier reading was anomalously high, presumably the result of a massive injection of SO2 into the atmosphere not long before 1978. A major volcanic eruption at that time would provide a very straightforward explanation for this. Possible evidence was again noted in 2009 when a bright cloudy spot appeared on the planet and was observed from both Earth and space.
Restricted biospheres” like the one proposed for Venus may be more common in the Universe than “global biospheres” like Earth’s, but they will also be more difficult to detect by reason of their more subtle nature. In any case, the indisputable discovery 36 Weird Worlds of such a biosphere on Venus would show that such “restricted biospheres” do exist and that life, once it finds a toehold on a planet, does not necessarily colonize every region of that planet. But before we get too philosophical about the significance of Venusian life, we must ask whether this speculation rests on anything more than a relatively minor departure from equilibrium of part of the planet’s atmosphere.
Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium by S. Chandrasekhar