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Life could potentially exist in the clouds of Venus, new study finds

By T.K. Randall
March 30, 2024 · Comment icon 0 comments

Could there be life on Venus ? Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Peter Rubin
Venus might not seem like a particularly hospitable place, but its atmosphere could support some forms of life.
With surface temperatures exceeding 860 degrees and crushing atmospheric pressures that are more than 100 times those found on our own planet, the conditions on Venus are undeniably hellish.

But while the likelihood of finding signs of life on its surface remains low, scientists have long speculated that primitive life forms could potentially eke out an existence high up in the clouds.

There is one snag, though - the clouds on Venus are actually comprised of droplets of sulfuric acid - an extremely corrosive chemical that can dissolve pretty much any biological material here on Earth.

This doesn't mean that life in the atmosphere of Venus is impossible, however.
Now a new study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found evidence to suggest that some of the building blocks of life can actually continue to exist when placed within a container of concentrated sulfuric acid.

The team found that 19 amino acids essential for life on Earth can remain stable for weeks when placed inside concentrations of acid that mirror the conditions found in the clouds of Venus.

"We are finding that building blocks of life on Earth are stable in sulfuric acid, and this is very intriguing for the idea of the possibility of life on Venus," said study author Sara Seager.

"It doesn't mean that life there will be the same as here. In fact, we know it can't be. But this work advances the notion that Venus' clouds could support complex chemicals needed for life."

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