Research suggests that the clouds of Venus may, in fact, support microbial life forms.
A paper published in the peer-reviewed Astrobiology science journal takes a deep dive into reasons why one of Earth’s nearest neighbors may be supporting unique lifeforms similar to bacteria within its cloudy atmosphere.
The paper’s authors claim that “together, our lines of reasoning suggest that particles in Venus’ lower clouds contain sufficient mass balance to harbor microorganisms, water, and solutes, and potentially sufficient biomass to be detected by optical method.”
The foremost clue is in the dark patches scattered among the sulphuric Venusian clouds. These patches are eerily similar to formations of algae and bacteria on our own planet, suggesting that they may very well be floating colonies of primitive organisms.
While exploration of Venus’ mysteries have been ongoing since the 1960s, earlier instruments were “incapable of distinguishing between materials of an organic or inorganic nature,” according to lead author Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center.
Co-author Rakesh Mogul, a professor of biological chemistry at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, told Newsweek that “Venus could be an exciting new chapter in astrobiology exploration,” but to really know, “we need to go there and sample the clouds.”
To do so, researchers hope to utilize the Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform (VAMP). The blimp-like craft would hover close, observing and gathering samples from the inhospitable atmosphere. It is the first step toward discovering for certain whether we are or are not alone in the universe — and it happens to be right on our proverbial door step.