Dark Spots observed in Venus' atmosphere may be signs of life

Scientists may have just observed signs of life on Venus.
By Lliane Hunter | Apr 05, 2018
Dark spots in the clouds of Venus could possibly be evidence of life on our sister planet. An international team of scientists is examining these observations in Venus' atmosphere, writes David Grossman in an article for Popular Mechanics.

Scientists have believed for some time that microbes could comfortably reproduce and thrive in the clouds of the Venusian atmosphere. A new study in the journal Astrobiology suggests that dark patches in the atmosphere of Venus is potentially caused by light-absorbing bacteria. "Venus has had plenty of time to evolve life on its own," said University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist Sanjay Limaye, who led the new study, in a press release.

Venus, the second rock from the sun, is similar in size, mass, and composition to Earthhowever, the runaway greenhouse climate keeps surface temperatures hovering around 864 degrees Fahrenheit. Limaye learned about bacteria on Earth with light-absorbing properties from Grzegorz Slowik of Poland's University of Zielona Gora. With a group of researchers, they noted similarities between the bacteria and the dark spots within Venus' atmosphere.

"On Earth, we know that life can thrive in very acidic conditions, can feed on carbon dioxide, and produce sulfuric acid," says Rakesh Mogul, a professor of biological chemistry at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The team suggests that this dark cloud could be similar to algae in lakes on Earth, except floating in the clouds. VAMP, a hypothetical aircraft proposed by Northrup Gruman, may be developed in order to examine these spots close up.

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