Reports

How Did Venus Lose Its Angular Momentum?

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Science  11 Dec 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3963, pp. 1196-1198
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3963.1196

Abstract

Venus now has a retrograde and negligible spin, but it very likely started with a typical planetary spin: prograde and with a 10- to 20-hour period. The usually assumed mechanism of solar tidal friction is quite insufficient to remove this angular momentum. Instead, we postulate capture of a moonlike object from an initially retrograde orbit: it would despin Venus and suddenly transform the planet's rotational kinetic energy into internal heat, which would lead to volcanism and the liberation of large amounts of volatiles. The moon would disappear by crashing into the surface of Venus.