Mar 27, 2016

Venus Likely Had Past Life; Next Step Is Finding It

Posted by in categories: alien life, biological

Venus, sometimes called Earth’s twin, is a hauntingly beautiful planet that likely had past microbial life a prominent astrobiologist asserts. If so, we need to go find it. NASA is developing the tech to withstand the high pressures and temperatures to do such a surface search.

I say there’s no excuse; Venus is closer than Mars; and while Mars may have harbored life as did Ceres, finding evidence of past life on Venus and then Mars later this century would mean that life itself evolves pretty readily.

Venus likely harbored past microbial life, if not on its exposed surface, then in the planet’s potential warm early oceans and hot pools of liquid water, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist now tells me.

Schulze-Makuch is less certain whether such long-dead microbes actually would have originated on Venus itself or have been delivered via meteorites from our own early Earth. But he does think it’s worth using a future Venus surface rover to look for such microfossils and/or their isotopic byproducts.

With present-day surface temperatures of 465 Celsius; atmospheric pressure some 92 times that of Earth; and a carbon dioxide (CO2) atmosphere laced with sulfuric acid, Venus today is anathema to life as we know it. But as the Sun grew in luminosity at an average rate of 10 percent every billion years, Venus may have turned from something quite habitable into the greenhouse gas nightmare we see now.

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