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Is there a possibility of life on Venus?

Shatakshi Asthana
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has decided to send a Venus mission to the planet Venus. In September, phosphine was found in the atmosphere of Venus, which is considered a sign of the presence of life, that is, of biosignature. The temperature on the surface of Venus is above 450 degrees Celsius and the pressure is 90 times higher than on Earth. In such a situation, the bigger question is whether there is life on Venus? If so, in what form and is it possible to study it? Navbharat Times Online spoke with Dr. Ram Karan, an international scientist of Indian origin, to find answers to all these questions. Dr Karan, a young enzymological researcher at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, participated in studies related to the US space agency NASA. He says this discovery opened up many possibilities for the future. Learn here the important questions related to the possibility of living on Venus and their answers-

Is life possible on the planet Venus?

Dr Ram Karan says we are looking for life on other planets. In such a situation, finding biosignatures like phosphine cannot be ignored. It is possible to study Venus as opposed to hundreds of thousands of light years away from exoplanets. Dr Ram Karan himself works on microorganisms that can live in these conditions. For this, he received the Young Scientist Award in Japan. Dr Karan, who has worked with NASA on microorganisms found even under harsh conditions, says research on extremophiles is of great importance in studying the discovery and origin of life on d ‘other planets. In a recent study, Dr Karan and his team discovered extremophiles found in extremely cold temperatures in the Antarctic Deep Lake. Similar conditions are found on Mars, which created the possibility that such creatures could exist there as well.

Is there a possibility of life on Venus under such circumstances?

Dr Karan says Venus is one of the most beautiful planets seen from Earth, but it has been ignored by almost all space agencies, including NASA. Dr Karan says it’s a great discovery that no one imagined. This will strengthen further research on the possibility of living on Venus. They said the presence of phosphine must have been due to atmospheric and geological processes that we do not yet know about. However, from this we can wonder if humanity ignored a planet that had the greatest similarity to Earth.

Due to temperatures above 450 degrees Celsius and 90 times the pressure on Earth, such life is not possible on Venus as it is based on water on Earth, but Dr Karan says he would have it. advocated for a long time. Life came in dense clouds in the form of thermoacidophilic extremophiles (microorganisms living in extremely hot and acidic conditions) where phosphine was found on Venus. On Venus, there can be types of extremophiles that live on the lower layers of clouds. There may also be organisms that live at temperatures of 100 to 200 ° C, 10 meters below the surface. Such hyperthermophiles are found on Earth.

Do such situations occur on earth and is there life there?

Dr Ram Karan explains that the shape of Venus is almost the same as that of Earth and that it is called the “sister planet” of Earth. It is believed that there were oceans billions of years ago, but today they are considered unfavorable to life. The cloudy planet is the hottest in the solar system. The temperature of the atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide is so high that lead can be melted here.

Extremophiles are organisms discovered on Earth. They find themselves in an environment where life cannot be imagined, such as extreme heat, acid, pressure and cold. Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Venus are considered such. In such a situation, the discovery of life on other planets becomes interesting for scientists working with acidophiles on Earth. The most acidic acidophiles are microorganisms of the genus Picrophilus. They grow at pH 0.7 and can stay at pH 0.

The mosses and cyanidium caldarium found on Earth can also live in a 100% carbon dioxide environment. At the same time, elephant seals and sperm whales live 950m under the sea under pressure such as 9.5 MPa, while microorganisms such as obligate barophiles and shewanella can live at 108 MPa at 10898 m in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth.

Hyperthermophiles living at extremely high temperatures thrive at temperatures of 122 ° C and are found near thermal vents with temperatures of 400 ° C. However, an organism living directly at a temperature of 300 degrees was not found on the ground.

If less developed organisms are found under such conditions, what is the probability that they will evolve into complex organisms?

About 3.8 billion years after the origin of life on Earth, many complex organisms have evolved due to evolution. However, with less developed organisms such as moss, bacteria, east and fungi, which were discovered billions of years ago. They are not only found but also thrive well. Even today, the single-celled organisms found with complex organisms prove that these organisms do not necessarily turn into more complex organisms. When complex organs are needed, they begin to form. In single-celled organisms, most of the work is as much or better than organisms with more cells. Therefore, he is stable in his current position.

Besides temperature, what factors can be important for life on Venus?

The temperature of the ground of Venus is 465 ° C, the atmospheric temperature of 9.5 MPa. There is water and steam while bicycles 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen and sulfur are caused by volcanoes.

Phosphine was found 50 km above the ground in the atmosphere of Venus. It’s a wonderful success, but if you want to send humans over there, how will the journey be from here?

Research published in Nature Astronomy has claimed that huge amounts of phosphine (PH3) have been found on Venus. This compound of phosphorus and hydrogen is bound to life. Phosphine on earth creates organisms that do not need oxygen or is made in the laboratory. Thus, the possible traces of life have heightened curiosity between astronomers and space scientists to learn more about Venus.

The question is whether the Shukrayan missions of ISRO and other space agencies can now find an answer to the question of whether there is life outside of Earth? Studying the planet inside the solar system is a difficult task. NASA’s last Venus mission, Magellan, entered orbit on Venus on August 10, 1990. It was the first spacecraft to imagine the entire planet using its radar mapping orbiter and it collapsed into ash after spending only 10 hours in the atmosphere of Venus.

Shukrayan will be India’s first mission to Venus and will study the planet for four years. The main science of the mission is to map the surface and bottom of the Venus objective. In addition, the chemistry of the atmosphere and its interactions with the solar wind will also be studied. In the past 30 years, only 3 spacecraft have circled Venus, but space agencies around the world are taking an interest in them again. NASA plans to send two Venus missions this year – 2025 and 2028. The European Space Agency plans to ship EnVision in the 2030s and Russia is working on the Venus VeneraD orbiter-lander which will ship after 2023.

Do you expect life on Venus to die out?

In September, when it became known that Venus was receiving phosphine in the atmosphere, there was no sign of excitement. However, other astronomers have also questioned this research. After analyzing their data, scientists at Cardiff University also admitted that the amount of phosphine was first found, it has now been reduced by seven times. These results were shown in the November 17th pre-draw. Research manager Jane Greaves said phosphine was present. At the same time, Dr Ram Karan says the signs of life decrease with Venus. He says extraordinary claims also require extraordinary evidence. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if we found life on Venus as extremophiles.

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