The second planet from the Sun - Venus - is one of the most enigmatic in our solar system. It could also be one of the most instructive. Scientists believe that Venus was home to oceans, rivers and other life-enriching elements billions of years ago. Natural life might have been able to sustain itself on the planet at one time. But today, the planet is a hellish landscape of eroded rocks and volcanic activity. Venus: Death of a Planet calls upon the latest radar imaging to determine what might have occurred on the mystery planet, and how Earth avoided suffering a similar fate.
The similarities between Venus and Earth are numerous. Both planets share a similar shape, size, solid surface and complex weather system. They are often referred to as "sister" or "twin" planets, but their fates throughout the history of our galaxy could hardly be more dissimilar.
Much of what we know of Venus resulted from the groundbreaking 1990 mission of the Magellan spacecraft, which managed to capture detailed radar imagery of 97% of the planet's land forms. It became obvious to researchers that events must have conspired to corrode and destroy this once thriving planet. What went wrong on Venus?
Scientists opine on the processes which had to occur to vaporize the planet's oceans, choke its atmosphere with deadly greenhouse gases, and give form to molten fire-spewing volcanoes. They also spotlight how the inner workings of Earth's tectonic plates might have saved our planet from similar destruction.
Much is not yet known about Venus and the potential parallels we share with it. The filmmakers outline the efforts to dig for this information in the form of satellite surveillance and other probes. Among the most pressing questions is whether life is the result of natural evolution, or merely a fluke?
The film weaves its ambitious story with concise narration, compelling imagery, and a panel of expert researchers who consider the subject with equal parts awe and enthusiasm.
In studying the events which might have occurred on Venus all those years ago, we might grasp a greater understanding of our own planet.