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Possibility of Life on Venus

Since decades scientists are making efforts to discover the existence of extraterrestrial life on other planets. According to an online journal Astrobiology, the atmosphere of Venus may act as a possible niche for extraterrestrial microbial life. Venus has a history of having habitable climate with liquid water on its surface for over 2 billion years.

Rakesh Mogul, a professor of biological chemistry at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, states that the cloudy, highly reflective and acidic atmosphere of Venus is composed mostly of carbon dioxide and water droplets containing sulfuric acid. A number of space probes were launched between 1962 and 1978 to Venus which showed that the temperature and pressure conditions in the lower and middle portions of the Venusian atmosphere -- altitudes between 40 and 60 kilometers (25-27 miles) -- would not prevent microbial life. On the contrary, the surface conditions on Venus are unfriendly with temperatures as high as 450 degrees Celsius (860 degrees Fahrenheit). Venus shows some episodic dark, sulfuric rich patches. The particles that constitute these patches are very similar to the bacteria on Earth. This has not yet been confirmed because the instruments that sampled Venus' atmosphere till now are incapable of differentiating between materials of an organic or inorganic nature. One possibility that the scientists have come up with is the use of VAMP, or Venus Atmospheric Maneuverable Platform, which is a craft. It flies like a plane but floats like a blimp. It can stay aloft in the planet's cloud layer for about an year gathering data and samples. It is also possible for this craft to carry with itself a microscope so that micro- organisms can be easily identified. Presently, this concept is under development by Northrop Grumman Corp.

By: Anuja Arora


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