We recently talked about an amazing discovery- Scientists have discovered chemicals in the atmosphere of Venus that may indicate the existence of life in the atmosphere of the second planet from the Sun. Now their colleagues have some speculation about where these theoretically existing aliens might have come from. In an article published in The Conversation, researchers at the University of New South Wales theorized that life on Venus may have arisen long ago, before the planet was yet the hellish place we know today. What's more, the discovery of phosphine in the Venusian clouds is truly amazing news, as scientists currently don't know how to create this gas without life in the equation.
The surface of the second planet from the Sun, named inthe honor of the ancient Roman goddess of love and beauty, is a lifeless place, where if there was life, then a very, very long time. Conditions on Venus today, ranging from temperature to poisonous clouds from which sulfuric acid spills onto the surface, do not look suitable for any of the life forms we know. A significant part of the surface of Venus (90%) is covered with solidified basalt lava. There are hills on the planet comparable in size to the earth's continents, as well as mountains and tens of thousands of volcanoes.
The third brightest object in the night sky (behindexcluding the Moon) attracted the attention of the outstanding Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. It was he who, carefully observing Venus, came to the conclusion that there is an atmosphere on the planet. Later, already in 1932, using the methods of spectral analysis of the composition of the atmosphere, bands of carbon dioxide were found in it. Ground-based measurements of the temperature of the cloud cover were also carried out, but by the beginning of the sixties it was believed that In the atmosphere of Venus, nitrogen (3.5%) and carbon dioxide (96.5%) predominate, and it is always dark, hot, dusty and windy there.
September 14, 2020 in the journal Nature Astronomy published a study by scientists from Cardiff University with the results of observations of the gas shell of Venus. Discovered in the planet's atmosphere phosphine gas - a substance indicating the possibility of the existence of life in the atmosphere of this hot planet.
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The fact is that on Earth, phosphine is formed inas a result of the vital activity of organisms that can survive in the most extreme conditions. Read more about the scientific discovery that attracted the attention of the world community in a fascinating article by my colleague Ramis Ganiev. But how can you imagine life originating in the Venusian clouds?
Assumption that in the past on Venuslife could not exist new. However, today researchers refer to models according to which life on the second planet from the Sun (if it really once originated there), most likely, was very similar to the familiar life on earth. The authors of the article in the British The Conversation argue that in the past, Venus resembled Earth, however, with a milder climate and liquid water on the surface.
If you believe this hypothesis, then the Venusian life,may have originated in a milder era and found a way to adapt to a harsher reality. Moreover, if it really exists, then humanity may have family ties with it. But what if the presence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus does not mean the presence of life?
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It should be noted that gaseous phosphine inVenusian clouds have been detected in low concentrations (20 ppb (parts per billion)), making the hypothesis of life on Venus less plausible. In 2013, a study was released, according to which most of the hunt for aliens is likely to be studying the atmospheres of distant planets, since studying the atmosphere can make a conclusion about whether there is life on the planet or not.
For example, if someone looked at the Earth witha distance of several light years, you would see that the concentration of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere is ten orders of magnitude higher than it should be for chemical balance. This imbalance is due to the life on earth creating oxygen and adding it to the atmosphere. We do not know of any other abiotic process that could explain this degree of imbalance.
Another signal is the presence of gas, nothaving a known source other than life. This is where phosphine comes into play. And while we don't know exactly what an alien organism is, we do know that some chemical and physical processes are universal. Building on earlier findings, a new study by Mansavi Lingam and Abraham Loeb was published on September 16, 2020, which applied mathematical models to the recent discovery of phosphine on Venus.
We found that the typical biomass densities predicted by our simple model are several orders of magnitude lower than the average biomass density of the Earth's air biosphere.
In simple terms, to create a levelphosphine found in the clouds of Venus would take much less life than is present in the clouds of our own planet today. The authors of the new study suggest that a small amount of possible life is emitting a signal that we can see from Earth, letting us know that there is life in the clouds of Venus. But what type of life can phosphine create?
Phosphine in the clouds of Venus
Back in 1967, an outstanding astronomer andpopularizer of science Carl Sagan and biophysicist Harold Morotwitz reflected on life in the clouds of Venus. During the first few billion years of its history, Venus may have been better adapted to life, just to become Venus as we know it (i.e. the last billion years). It is possible that life not only managed to evolve on the surface of this hot planet, but also, possibly, emigrate into the clouds.
Shrouded in clouds and a superdense atmosphere, Venus's surface reaches 460 degrees Celsius - hot enough to melt lead. By the way, "Cold" days on Venus mean leaden frost. But clouds are a completely different story. In clouds 50 km above the surface of Venus, the temperature drops to about 5 ° C, where water droplets can form. Sagan believed that "it is not difficult to imagine the biology of indigenous peoples" in this layer of clouds. Sagan and Morowitz envisioned living "floating bubbles" about 4 cm in diameter with a hydrogen bubble inside (to stay in the air). It is noteworthy that modern research shows that microbial life may be better adapted to Venusian clouds.
Thus, the work of Dr. Sarah Seeger predictsthe existence of microbes inside droplets in the layers of clouds, because “the need for a liquid medium is one of the general attributes of all life, regardless of its biochemical composition. The problem is that once the droplets get large enough, they settle at lower altitudes, falling into destructive temperatures. Thus, the life cycle of these microbes will vary between being "small, dried spores and larger, metabolically active, droplet-dwelling cells."
So, suppose microbes live in a richnutrients drop of water. The water condenses, but as it precipitates and evaporates in the lower layers of the clouds, the microbes dry out. In this state, the winds raise them, which then return the microbes to higher points, where they rehydrate themselves in a new house of water droplets. And during the metabolically active time inside the droplet, microbes potentially create ... phosphine. So there might be life on Venus. But maybe not. What do you think about this? We will wait for the answer here!