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Life on Venus Not Possible, New Study Concludes. Here's Why

By: Buzz Staff

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Last Updated: July 07, 2022, 14:55 IST

Life on Venus Not Possible, New Study Concludes. (Image: Shutterstock)

Life on Venus Not Possible, New Study Concludes. (Image: Shutterstock)

For the study, researchers analysed the biochemistry of the thick, sulphur-rich clouds present in Venus.

A recent study published by scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK has concluded that there might be no life on Venus. The study published in the journal Nature Communications, mentions that the planet bears no signs of microbes eating or excreting, suggesting that the peculiar chemical composition of the planet’s clouds cannot be explained by extraterrestrial life.

For the study, researchers analysed the biochemistry of the thick, sulphur-rich clouds present in Venus. The team of three researchers: Sean Jordan, Oliver Shorttle and Paul B. Rimmer looked for “fingerprints” that any potential cloud-dwelling organisms would leave there as a result of their feeding and excretion.

The researchers modelled chemical reactions expected in Venus’ sulphur dioxide-rich atmosphere. It should be noted that concentrations of sulphur dioxide are high in the clouds closer to the planet’s surface but diminish with altitude. Scientists thought the sulphur dioxide might be disappearing as it was consumed by cloud-dwelling microbes. However, after running the models, researchers found that chemically, that hypothesis did not work.

Sean Jordan from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, the paper’s first author, said that they have looked at the sulphur-based ‘food’ available in the Venusian atmosphere and it is not anything one would want to eat, but it is the main available energy source available on the planet. Jordan added, “If that food is being consumed by life, we should see evidence of that through specific chemicals being lost and gained in the atmosphere.”

He also mentioned that if life was responsible for the sulphur dioxide levels on Venus, it would also break everything we know about Venus’s atmospheric chemistry.

In a press release, Rimmer said, “We’ve spent the past two years trying to explain the weird sulphur chemistry we see in the clouds of Venus.” He added that life is pretty good at “weird chemistry,” so the researchers have been studying whether there is a way to make life a potential explanation for what they see.

It is expected that the latest study might guide the observations of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to reveal its first scientific images this month.

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first published:July 07, 2022, 14:55 IST
last updated:July 07, 2022, 14:55 IST