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Thread: Microbes in Venus clouds?

  1. #1
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    Microbes in Venus clouds?

    Spectral signatures might mean life https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2017.1783
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  2. #2
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    Very interesting paper, Tom. Thanks for finding and sharing the news.

    I found a summary of the study in Astrobiology Magazine.

  3. #3
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    I reserve the right to maintain extreme skepticism as to this hypothesis.
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    I reserve the right to hope we send another aerostat probe to plumb these mysteries.

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    A summary of the article from R&D magazine

    A team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison*has*revisited an old theory that the atmosphere of Venus*may*contain extraterrestrial microbial life.*

    According to planetary scientist Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Space Science and Engineering Center, some models suggest*that*Venus*had a habitable climate with liquid water on its surface for as long as two billion years.**

    "That's much longer than is believed to have occurred on Mars," Limaye said in a statement. "Venus has had plenty of time to evolve life on its own."*

    Terrestrial microorganisms—mostly bacteria—are capable of being swept into the atmosphere on Earth**where they have been found alive at altitudes as high as 25 miles by scientists using specially equipped balloons.*

    There is also a growing catalog of microbes that inhabit extremely harsh environments on Earth, including in the hot springs of Yellowstone, deep ocean hydrothermal vents, the toxic sludge of polluted areas and in acidic lakes around the globe.*

    According to Rakesh Mogul, a professor of biological chemistry at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona,*the*cloudy, highly reflective and acidic atmosphere of Venus is mostly made of carbon dioxide and water droplets that contain sulfuric acid.*
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    I reserve the right to hope we send another aerostat probe to plumb these mysteries.
    Agree! Actually the paper that the OP links to mentions a project called Venus Atmospheric Mobile Platform (VAMP), which would stay aloft via a combination of aerostatics and aerodynamics. More information about VAMP here.

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    Venus has quite the potential for life high in its clouds, especially in a region where temperatures and winds are similar to here on Earth. If life can use the very little water that's available, microbes could survive there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmic Mathew View Post
    Venus has quite the potential for life high in its clouds, especially in a region where temperatures and winds are similar to here on Earth. If life can use the very little water that's available, microbes could survive there.
    Yes. The amount of water vapour may be low by Earth standards, but there's a measurable amount of water vapour there, and at the atmospheric level they're talking about, the temperature and pressure allow condensation into droplets of liquid water.

    The sulphuric acid in the clouds may help to concentrate the water into droplets, because sulphuric is hygroscopic, i.e. sulphuric forms bonds with water without changing the water molecule into something else. (This point is mentioned in the paper that the first post of this thread links to.) Of course, any microbes there would have to be a sort that can handle sulphuric acid...

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    Life has a tendency to cling on like anything once it's begun. It looks likely that Venus at least went through a period where life as we know it could have developed. Maybe this are the last remnants of that ancient lineage, cut short but not entirely snuffed out. Definitely worth some investigating, I'd say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    I reserve the right to maintain extreme skepticism as to this hypothesis.
    Read what the Indians found way up in our atmosphere and you just might change your mind.

  11. #11
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    It appears the paper quoted in the OP makes no references I can find, as to the significance of the discovery of Venus' persistent ionospheric ambipolar electric field. (See 'The electric wind of Venus: A global and persistent“polar wind”-like ambipolar electric field sufficient for the direct escape of heavy ionospheric ions', Collinson etal, June 2016).

    The discovery of this field is global to Venus, and has most likely been accelerating any ions lighter than 18 amu (which includes O+ and all water group ions) to escape velocity since the planet formed, provided one buys into the idea of it being caused by proximity to the Sun and high photoionization rates, (compared with planets beyond its orbit). The measurement of this field is thus far unique in the Solar System and is more than 5 times Earth's, (for eg).

    This process casts serious empirically measured 'shade' on Limaye's arm-waving statement of: 'some models suggest that Venus had a habitable climate with liquid water on its surface for as long as two billion years'. The point here is that the E-field's influence is not just another hypothetical model .. there's measured data supporting it.

    Even if Venusian 'life' did find itself stranded high in the atmosphere, it would also have had to contend with this process, (as well as the impact on its own molecular integrity).

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