9
$\begingroup$

Many people would like to know if any form of life could survive anywhere in the atmosphere of Venus.

Researchers have simulated conditions on Mars and found that after a month some cyanobacteria were still alive and active ! (Reference)

Is it not important that researchers could also study if CO2 consuming bacteria could thrive in some regions of the atmosphere of Venus by simulating the conditions in those regions ?
Or has there been such research already ?

Nostoc commune,a species of Cyanobacterium, could be a good candidate for the harsh conditions that have to be simulated.

$\endgroup$
9
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe Thank you for being so helpful. I've made my question more specific $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Jan 31 '18 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ Your question is interesting, you might consider another edit. If you would like to ask about the possibility of bacteria in the atmosphere, that should be the title as well. Try to keep your question narrow and focused. You can always ask a new question based on answers you get here, but answers are more likely if the question is narrow and focused. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 1 '18 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe Thank you for your new susgestions, again i 've made some corrections. $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Feb 1 '18 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Uwe But the main question stays: why has there been no simulations until now ! And i have to explain why those simulations could be worthwhile ! $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Feb 1 '18 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ Great edits, your question looks much better! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 1 '18 at 13:17
3
$\begingroup$

One issue is actually simulating the clouds. If you know and can reproduce the Martian soil chemistry, you have the "Martian soil" used in the referenced simulation. But to get or reproduce a piece of the Venusian clouds that would serve as this "soil" in a Venus simulation you have not only to match or sample the cloud chemistry, but also simulate the weather/hydrodynamic conditions that exist in the clouds. You may also need to explore simulated clouds at different altitudes. All told, your simulation would have to be more complex to design and carry out than the Martian one.

Moreover, for all the fascinating cloud chemistry we see on Venus, we are not yet at the point where Venusian cloud life is as likely as life on Mars. A key difference here is the known presence of organic material. Martian organic material, including methane and more complex compounds, is known to exist, providing an argument for the possibility of life and a motive for further study. Direct evidence for such organic chemistry on Venus was not present at the time the question was posted -- but see the update below. (The 2020 discovery of phosphine could be a biosignature, but it is not an organic compound; and phosphine is not among the top potential biosignatures on other possible-life worlds.)

Update, October 2020:

This situation may be about to change. It appears this barrier has been crossed with the identification of glycine in the atmosphere of Venus. This link provides an abstract from which the pdf may be downloaded without a paywall.

Detection of simplest amino acid glycine in the atmosphere of the Venus

Arijit Manna,1 Sabyasachi Pal,2,1∗ Mangal Hazra1

Amino acids are considered to be prime ingredients in chemistry, leading to life. Glycine is the simplest amino acid and most commonly found in animal proteins. It is a glucogenic and non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally by the living body and plays a key role in the creation of several other important bio-compounds and proteins. We report the spectroscopic de- tection of the presence of the simplest amino acid glycine (NH2CH2COOH) with transition J=13(13,1)–12(12,0) at ν=261.87 GHz (16.7σ statistical significance) with column density N(glycine)=$7.8×10^{12} cm−2, in the atmosphere of the solar planet Venus using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Its detection in the atmosphere of Venus might be one of the keys to understand the formation mechanisms of prebiotic molecules in the atmosphere of Venus. The upper atmosphere of Venus may be going through nearly the same biological method as Earth billions of years ago.

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this thorough answer. Simulating clouds at different altitudes would need adapting temperature ,pressure and sulfuric acid concentration. That alone would not be too complex. And the simulating would not be for evidence of organic chemistry but for testing if some existing bacteria could thrive in such conditions, possibly with adding some fertilizer. $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Aug 18 '19 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ "unless it would be very recent news"... this answer might be due for an update. $\endgroup$ – craq Sep 15 '20 at 4:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What seems to be missing, however, is evidence for organic compounds. Hence this question. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Sep 15 '20 at 10:10
-1
$\begingroup$

Geothermal pools and hydrothermal vents Are the closest thing to Venus like conditions. At 400 degrees Celsius, Venus runs at temperatures of 465 Celsius. However the oceanic depth and pressure prevents any boiling of the super heated water, at 10,000 feet deep, the vents exist at 300 times atmospheric pressure (3x that of venus atmosphere) however there's a layer of cold ocean water pressing on those vents. As they pour out of a vent, the fluids encounter cold, oxygenated seawater, causing another, more rapid series of chemical reactions to occur.

A liquid at high pressure has a higher boiling point than when that liquid is at atmospheric pressure. For example, water boils at 100 °C (212 °F) at sea level, but at 93.4 °C (200.1 °F) at 1,905 metres (6,250 ft) altitude. For a given pressure, different liquids will boil at different temperatures.

Venus is dry, because without water there's no universal carrying fluid for metabolism or dissolving of organic materials. Organic molecules require lower temperature condditions to create organic substances like proteins or DNA. Even with Venus high pressure; water boils at 365 degrees celsius. Venus is simply too hot for water; thus too hot for living things. Based on fundamental life chemistry water is the universal solvent and carrying fluid.

Why simulate an environment as noxious enough to digest a battery

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ Didn 't you know that at 55 km height the atmospheric temperature is 27⁰ C and that there actually is water in Venus's atmosphere ? $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Sep 16 '20 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ yeah, 0.002% Venus has little magnetic field or ozone layer to fight off intense radiation. Being millions of miles closer to the sun. $\endgroup$ – LazyReader Sep 16 '20 at 19:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.