Could there be life in the clouds of Venus ?
By T.K. Randall
April 1, 2018 · 7 comments
NASA has considered using airships to explore the atmosphere of Venus. Image Credit: NASA
A new paper has put forward the suggestion that the clouds of Venus could be a habitat for microbial life.
With surface temperatures exceeding 860 degrees and crushing atmospheric pressures that are more than 100 times those found on the Earth, the conditions on Venus are undeniably hellish.
The idea that life could survive on Venus, therefore, might seem preposterous, but there is one part of the planet that could still be a viable habitat for primitive life forms - its atmosphere.
In a new paper, researchers have outlined the possibility that the cloudy, reflective and highly acidic atmosphere of Venus could be a viable place to look for extraterrestrial microbes.
Comparisons have been drawn to the discovery of microbes in our own planet's atmosphere as well as to life forms that are known to thrive in the acidic conditions found in some underground caverns.
"On Earth, we know that life can thrive in very acidic conditions, can feed on carbon dioxide, and produce sulfuric acid," said biological chemist Rakesh Mogul.
Unexplained dark streaks that have long been observed in the atmosphere of Venus could be something akin to the algae blooms found here on Earth, the researchers argue.
"Those dark patches have been a mystery since they were first observed by ground-based telescopes nearly a century ago," said study leader Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin.
Could it be that evidence of extraterrestrial life has been staring us in the face for years ?
"Venus has had plenty of time to evolve life on its own," said Limaye.
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