Are aliens hiding in the clouds of Venus?
Scientists say ammonia on the planet could be a sign of life
Scientists have revealed that possible life forms that neutralize acid can make Venus’ clouds habitable.
Ammonia on Earth is a residue from aquatic organisms. The presence of ammonia detected on Venus in the 1970s puzzles scientists. Because all the calculations show that ammonia should not appear on the planet by any chemical process.
The environment on Venus is not conducive to life. The planet is parched and suffocating, with an atmosphere covered with carbon dioxide and surface heat to melt lead. The planet’s clouds are also covered in droplets of sulfuric acid, which are caustic enough to poke holes in people’s skin.
But in a study published yesterday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a research team has identified a chemical process by which life can neutralize Venus’ acidic environment and create a habitable environment in the clouds.
In the study, conditions such as the presence of oxygen, water vapor and sulfur dioxide on Venus that have been unexplained for years were examined. The research team tested whether these could be explained by dust. However, it turned out that such a situation required a large amount of powder and this did not happen.
Scientists then investigated whether the unusual situations could be explained by ammonia. The findings showed that if possible aliens produced ammonia, oxygen would also be produced. In addition, ammonia can dissolve in sulfuric acid droplets and neutralize the area. This chemical process can also trigger the dissolution of sulfur dioxide.
In this way, it was determined that the pH (acidity) of the clouds could go from roughly minus 11 to zero. Although this level is still very acidic, it is conducive to life.
Source of ammonia may be of biological origin
The team also said that the source of the ammonia may be of biological origin, rather than natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions or lightning.
“If something is making ammonia in Venusian clouds, it will potentially neutralize some of the droplets, making them more habitable,” said William Bains, one of the study’s authors, and an academic at Cardiff University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“There are many more challenges for life in the clouds of Venus. First, there is almost no water there. All life as we know it needs water. But if there is life out there, neutralizing the acid will make the clouds a little more habitable than we thought.”
Independent, EurekAlert, SciTechDaily, Space.com