Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System. It is an extremely fascinating world that experts want to explore soon. Deep in the atmosphere of the “evil twin of the Earth”, in a layer “hidden from sight”, there could be life according to a new study.
Although according to some Venus was inhabited until about 1 billion years ago, nowadays the Venusian atmosphere is about 50 times drier than the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert. Where could any life forms live? In the clouds of the planet, a region that extends from about 48 to 60 kilometers in altitude.
Even on Earth, there is “an aerial biosphere,” study lead author Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells Space.com. “Microbial life does not stay in this place permanently, but it can be transported and stay a week or two before returning again “.
Seager and colleagues uncovered a scenario in which hypothetical microbes could survive in the skies of Venus. Previous work found that under the lowest clouds, precisely at altitudes of 47.5 to 33 kilometers, there is a layer of “mysterious haze”. Scientists don’t know the ingredients of this haze, only that it measures between 0.4 and 4 microns in width. For comparison, a human hair is about 100 microns wide.
To survive the heat of the lower atmosphere, the microbes would have to remain dormant, becoming inactive and dehydrated spores that could best resist this dangerous environment; could later attract fluid droplets around you and come back to life again, to then grow and reproduce, potentially living in these droplets for hours, months or even years.
If only 1% of one thousandth of the mass of the lower haze layer of Venus consisted of dried spores, there could be 5,500 tons of microbes. Although microbes can survive in hyper-acidic environments on Earth, such as the Dallol geothermal area in Ethiopia, Venusian clouds are more than 100 billion times more acidic.