Life could be creating its own environment on Venus – CVBJ

01/10/2022 08:00 CET

Pablo Javier Piacente

Life forms with the ability to neutralize the acid in Venus’s atmosphere could create “habitable pockets” in their clouds: ammonia might trigger chemical reactions that would lead to a friendlier environment.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge have proposed a suggestive hypothesis in a new study: life on flower It will be present and will be “evolution” to create an enabling environment, capable of dealing with the harsh conditions of the infernal planet. Microorganisms will form protective bag-like structures to survive in the clouds of Venus and “travel” throughout the planet thanks to the movement of winds .

According to a press release from MIT, the key will be Ammonia (NH 3)The presence of this gas was initially discovered in the 1970s by the Venera 8 and Pioneer Venus probes, and since then the mystery has not been solved. According to current theories, ammonia should not be produced by any known chemical process on Venus. Is it then the product of some kind of biological activity?

habitable bags

Besides the presence of ammonia, scientists have long noticed puzzling anomalies in Atmosphere Venus, for example, has inexplicable chemical signatures on a planet with these properties. This is the case for small concentrations of oxygen, as spherical particles contrasting with circular droplets of sulfuric acid, and unexpected levels of water vapor and sulfur dioxide. In 2020, part of the scientific team involved in this new research reported the discovery of phosphine in the clouds of Venus, opening up the possibilities for identifying some life forms.

Based on the hypothesis proposed in the new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), astronomers argue that all chimical interaction (or at least an important part of it) that has no explanation about Venus can be caused by the work of microorganisms. Little by little, these life forms created a more favorable environment for their development in the clouds that cover the planet.

Apparently, the ammonia would trigger a series of chemical processes that would neutralize the surrounding sulfuric acid droplets in the clouds of Venus: Thanks to this, microbial life It will grow in “spherical sacks that act as protective structures against “aggressions” complex planetary environment.

The researchers believe this could also explain most of the chemical reactions observed in Venus’s atmosphere. At the same time, having ammonia It would be sustainable through a biological origin, rather than a non-biological source such as lightning, volcanic eruptions, or even a meteor impact.

On-site measurements

The presence of a gas such as ammonia and the rest of the specific chemical reactions are more than enough to contemplate the possibility of a microbial life form on Venus. Everything indicates that it has evolved through a file chemical method Through them microorganisms can neutralize the acidic environment of Venus, creating habitable and self-sufficient structures in the clouds.

Although there are life forms on Earth that, even inside our stomachs, generate ammonia to make highly acidic environments suitable for living, conditions on Venus are more extreme and will require more effort. neutralize the action of acids.

However, the future Space missions to Venus They can test this hypothesis with on-site measurements: The Venus Life Finder Missions project proposes sending a spacecraft in the next few years to check for ammonia and other signs of life. Will the mystery of life on Venus be solved?


Ammonia production makes floral clouds habitable and explains the chemical anomalies observed at the cloud level. William Bynes, and Janush J. Petkowski, and Paul B. Rimmer, Sarah Seeger. PNAS (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2110889118

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