The Solar System
Article Date: June 1, 2018
News Type: Space
In the article Can Alien Life Exist on Venus? Some Researchers Certainly Think So!, by Hannah Shariff, she explains how scientists may have discovered alien like life on the planet closest to us- Venus. For years, the journey to find life outside of Earth has spanned a “multitude” of galaxies. However, while breakthroughs like the discovery of liquid water on Mars and “Earth- like” exoplanets have raised hopes of alien life, the distance between them and Earth were too far, and made it hard to prove.
Venus was named for the ancient Roman goddess of love and beauty. Venus is the second planet from the sun and is similar in structure and size to Earth, complete with mountains, valleys, and tens of thousands of volcanoes. However, one difference between Earth and Venus is Venus’ thick atmosphere traps the sun’s heat, which makes Venus surface temperature an average 864 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hot enough to melt lead.
While these temperatures make Venus uninhabitable, American and Soviet probes were sent to observe Venus between 1962 and 1978. The probes discovered that the temperature and pressure conditions in some parts of Venus’ dense atmosphere may be “favorable” to some life forms. In 1967, American bioscientist Harold Morowitz and astronomer Carl Sagan noted that the “abundance of carbon dioxide and sunlight — the key ingredients for photosynthesis — in the clouds made it plausible that alien life could exist”.
A team recently led by University of Wisconsin- Madison scientist Sanjay Limaye, expanded upon this idea. They did this by taking a closer look at the mysterious, shape changing dark patches in Venus’ atmosphere. These mysterious, shape changing dark patches have confused scientists for many, many years. The team of researchers, who published their discoveries in the journal Astrobiology on March 30, say the particles making up the dark patches have the same “dimensions” as single celled, light emitting bacteria on Earth.
“On Earth, we know that life can thrive in very harsh environments, and can feed on carbon dioxide and produce sulphuric acid,” said Rakesh Mogul, professor of biological chemistry at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, who co-authored the study. Mogul says since Venus’ acidic atmosphere also includes largely of carbon dioxide and water droplets which contain sulfuric acid, there is a high possibility of some sort of life form in the clouds. However, Mogul acknowledges, “To really know, we need to go there and sample the clouds.”
While NASA has their hands full with the 2030 mission to Mars, Russia’s Venera- D space mission, scheduled for the late 2020s, may allow researchers to get up close and see our closest planetary neighbor, personally. “Hopefully, Venus could be an exciting new chapter in astrobiology exploration,” Limaye said.
However, before you get up and about telling everyone that alien life exists on Venus, you should first know that scientists do not expect to find aliens like the ones described in science fiction movies. Instead, they believe the alien life forms will be something more similar to the algal blooms found in our lakes and oceans.
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