Scientists might have found alien life on our neighboring planet, Venus. As per a new study, models based on Venus have suggested that the planet had a habitable climate in the past with liquid water on its surface for a period as long as two billion years which is even greater than water on Mars as per studies. Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin-Madison says terrestrial microorganisms such as most bacteria on the Earth have been found alive at an altitude of 41 kilometers after being swept away by the wind into the atmosphere. Researchers used scientific equipment mounted on balloons to sample these bacteria after which, a study on these bacteria revealed that they are alive.
Microbes can live in any situation. There is a huge catalog of microbes known to humans that have inhabited at harsh environments and temperatures on Earth such as in the deep ocean hydrothermal vents, hot springs of Yellowstone, acidic lakes, and even toxic sludge collected at polluted areas where these microbes were still thriving and growing in number. Scientists know that microbes can live in acidic conditions where they usually produce sulphuric acid after feeding on carbon dioxide. Similarly, the atmosphere of Venus is mostly made up of sulphuric acid water droplets and carbon dioxide and it is packed with highly reflective and acidic cloudy atmosphere.
Between 1962 and 1978, many space probes or equipment that can visit distinct places in the space to conduct scientific experiments in an attempt to find life on Venus. It is when scientists came across the fact the atmosphere of Venus between the altitude 40 and 60 kilometers i.e lower and middle portion couldn’t host life while its surface has always been the most inhospitable place with the temperature as high as 450° Celsius. Further studies have stated that there are species of bacteria on Earth known for their light-absorbing properties which are similar to unidentified particles found on the surface of the clouds on Venus which have been popularized as unexplained dark patches.
Earlier research conducted using spectroscopy in the ultraviolet light stated that these dark patches on the Venus’ clouds are mainly concentrated sulphuric acid along with a patch of unknown light-absorbing particles which was discovered first by ground-based telescopes discovered nearly a century ago. This particular study on Venus’ clouds was published in the “Astrobiology” journal.
According to the data compared between dimensions of bacteria on Earth and dark patches on Venus, researchers found a striking resemblance. However, the probes were unable to contemplate between organic and inorganic nature of a material found in the Venus’ dark patches. Rakesh Mogul, a professor at California State Polytechnic University said that to understand the true nature of the unidentified dark patches, researchers will have to collect samples of Venus’ cloud sample that would open new opportunities in astrobiology.
As per wiki, aside from the very surface layers, the atmosphere is in a state of vigorous circulation. The upper layer of troposphere exhibits a phenomenon of super-rotation, in which the atmosphere circles the planet in just four Earth days, much faster than the planet’s sidereal day of 243 days. The winds supporting super-rotation blow at a speed of 100 m/s (~360 km/h or 220 mph) or more. Winds move at up to 60 times the speed of the planet’s rotation, while Earth’s fastest winds are only 10% to 20% rotation speed. On the other hand, the wind speed becomes increasingly slower as the elevation from the surface decreases, with the breeze barely reaching the speed of 10 km/h (2.8 m/s) on the surface. Near the poles are anticyclonic structures called polar vortices. Each vortex is double-eyed and shows a characteristic S-shaped pattern of clouds. Above there is an intermediate layer of mesosphere which separates the troposphere from the thermosphere. The thermosphere is also characterized by strong circulation, but very different in its nature – the gases heated and partially ionized by sunlight in the sunlit hemisphere migrate to the dark hemisphere where they recombine and downwell.
Unlike Earth, Venus lacks a magnetic field. Its ionosphere separates the atmosphere from outer space and the solar wind. This ionised layer excludes the solar magnetic field, giving Venus a distinct magnetic environment. This is considered Venus’s induced magnetosphere. Lighter gases, including water vapour, are continuously blown away by the solar wind through the induced magnetotail. It is speculated that the atmosphere of Venus up to around 4 billion years ago was more like that of the Earth with liquid water on the surface. A runaway greenhouse effect may have been caused by the evaporation of the surface water and subsequent rise of the levels of other greenhouse gases.
Despite the harsh conditions on the surface, the atmospheric pressure and temperature at about 50 km to 65 km above the surface of the planet is nearly the same as that of the Earth, making its upper atmosphere the most Earth-like area in the Solar System, even more so than the surface of Mars. Due to the similarity in pressure and temperature and the fact that breathable air (21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen) is a lifting gas on Venus in the same way that helium is a lifting gas on Earth, the upper atmosphere has been proposed as a location for both exploration and colonization.
On January 29, 2013, ESA scientists reported that the ionosphere of the planet Venus streams outwards in a manner similar to “the ion tail seen streaming from a comet under similar conditions