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Venus Express observation of Venus, solar wind blowing atmospheric gases into space (ESA)

If Life Exists on Venus, Could it be Blown to Earth?

25 Jul , 2008

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We’ve heard about the possibility of extraterrestrial life arriving on Earth from another planet, asteroid or comet, but the mode of transport usually includes a chunk of rock falling through the atmosphere as a meteorite. But there could be another form of interplanetary transportation. What if there are microbial forms of alien life floating in the upper atmosphere of Venus (the planet’s clouds contain compounds that could indicate presence of micro organisms)? Could they make the trip to Earth? Apparently it is possible, if Earth and Venus are correctly aligned, the solar wind may carry microbes from the upstream Venus to downstream Earth in a matter of days…

Earth and Venus are often referred to as ‘sisters’ as their size and geology are very similar. Although the Venusian surface may appear unsuitable for life to thrive (the temperature and atmospheric pressures are very extreme), it may be possible that microbial life exists in the clouds. As Nancy pointed out in her recent article about colonizing Venus, the environment 50 km above the Venusian surface is the most terrestrial-like in the whole of the Solar System (except Earth of course).

So it should come as no surprise that some scientists believe this may be a good location to search for the most basic forms of life. Two such scientists are Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe and Dr Janaki Wickramasinghe from the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, UK, who believe the chemical composition of Venus clouds are consistent with the presence of micro-organisms. Their research uses data from Venus Express (launched by ESA in 2005) which is currently orbiting the planet, trying to understand why Venus is so different from the Earth after 4.6 billion years of planetary evolution.

So the Wickramasinghe’s think that Venus and Earth are not only geologically similar, they may be biologically similar too. “Venus and Earth have often been referred to as sisters because of their geological similarities. Our research proposes that the two sisters may be biologically interconnected as well,” Chandra says. But they don’t stop there. If life does exist in the Venusian cloud tops, perhaps these micro organisms can survive the trip through space, seeding the terrestrial atmosphere. Naturally, this can only occur if the planets are in alignment, so the solar wind can erode the Venus atmosphere, transporting microbes as it does so.

However, the life on Venus theory has its critics. “The idea of life on Venus, particularly the clouds where the temperature and pressure are similar to the Earth, has been floated around for a while but is not really very likely,” says Prof Fred Taylor, a planetary scientist at Oxford University.

This is however an interesting field of research that may go to some way in explaining the phrase and book title: “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” So, looking for life on Mars and Venus doesn’t seem so outrageous after all…

(A thank you goes to my friend Ross Fenion who sent me the lead to this story and made the “…Women Are From Venus” link, it wasn’t me…)

Source: BBC


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autumn
Guest
autumn
July 25, 2008 10:33 PM

Wickramasinghe is Hoyle’s acolyte, so forgive me if I don’t hold my breath. Hoyle and W. believed that because dust existed in space, and because it seemed to give off Hydrogen spectra, it was indisputably bacterial life.

Al Hall
Member
Al Hall
July 25, 2008 10:39 PM

Ian O’Neill articles are my favorites… smile

RetardedFishFrog
Guest
RetardedFishFrog
July 26, 2008 4:19 AM

“trying to understand why Venus is so different from the Earth after 4.6 billion years of planetary evolution.”

Let’s see… Could it have anything to do with the fact that Venus is 25 million miles closer to the sun?

Jorge
Guest
July 26, 2008 6:37 AM
I think this is very, very far-fetched, quite frankly. And there’s a problem with the whole idea: Let’s assume there is life on the upper layers of the venusian atmosphere and that venusian microbes do make it to Earth on a regular basis. This implies that either they die when they reach us (unlikely, since they have already survived a trip through interplanetary vacuum), or that they thrive, and in all likelyhood, we’ve detected them already. Now, all life on Earth has a very limited group of closely related substances to pass along genetic information. Therefore, if we have among us venusian microbes that means life on Venus would also use the very same substances. This is very… Read more »
Rolfruhig2
Member
July 26, 2008 9:57 AM

How about the other way around. Microbes and live form from Earth to Venus or celestial bodies?

I am happy to see the latest NASA pictures on their home page. That is the way they are supposed to be.

Very satisfied. If they only did the same with a bunch of previous crummy ones we are good.

Laktam
Guest
Laktam
July 26, 2008 7:08 AM

Universe Today has selective hearing.

Intergalactic germs can fly here in days but the arrival of the Anukai is beyond the laws of physics.

Let’s define “days” as 5 days for the purpose of argument.

So… 25 million miles between and Venus. Organic matter–scratch that–LIFE gets swept up by the solar wind to infect our planet and cause general trouble at… wait for it…

208,000 mph.

Life exposed to brutal radiation, extreme ranges of temperature, high speeds and, ultimately, the physics of hitting earth’s atmosphere…

Dorks.

Joker
Guest
Joker
July 26, 2008 7:14 AM

Life arriving at 208,000mph… nothing violates the laws of physics there.

And if you think the Annukai could somehow arrive here with conscious decision making and technology, you’re crazy.

Ok. Glad we cleared that up.

Dominion
Member
July 26, 2008 8:09 AM

I find this to be an interesting theory. Highly improbable though. The odds of this happening must be incredible. However, I do still buy lottery tickets so there is always hope. I wonder though, if this has happened or happens occasionally, could it account for the horrible, deadly and drug resistant diseases that have sprung up throughout history? Maybe Venus holds the cure for cancer and aids.

James
Guest
James
July 26, 2008 10:25 AM
RetardedFishFrog, that doesn’t account for even a fraction of the differences between Earth and Venus. You don’t sound smart, just a nice blend of arrogant and ignorant. Jorge: Life wouldn’t be passed over to Earth on a daily basis. Only when the two planets and the sun are in a line together (I’m not sure how often that is, but definitely not daily. No more than once a year, probably?) The rest of what you said is pretty logical, though. Joker, the fastest I’m seeing the solar wind going is 750 km/hr. Where’d you get your speed from? We obviously can’t say yes or no or to whether life is on Venus (even though it does seem kind… Read more »
TD
Member
July 26, 2008 10:49 AM
I’ve been lookng into the “microbes thru space” theories for the last few years and they really deserve some serious attention….in fact the apparent lack of serious atttention added to the intense ridicule makes one very suspicious. Microbes survive in hot smokers on the ocean floor and in clouds – how high they get is still an actual unknown to science. How ridiculous is that? We still don’t know, in 2008, how high microbes get by natural forces. This is the biggest driver for the research that took place for “Imminent Discovery”. My paper was covered in NewScientist, but most of the original theory should be attributed to Dr. Svante Arrhenius – a Nobel prize winner. If you… Read more »
Jorge
Guest
July 26, 2008 11:50 AM
James, go read what I wrote. I wrote “regular”. Regular != daily. As for how often Venus and Earth are in conjuction, that’s pretty easy to estimate. Venus’ year lasts about 225 days, which means it moves 1.62 degrees per day; Earth’s, as we know, lasts 365 days, i.e., Earth moves 0.98 degrees per day. Since they both move in the same direction if you subtract the two you’ll see how faster Venus moves relative to the Earth, about 0.64 degrees. Since two conjuctions happen at 360 degree intervals, you just have to know how long it takes to go 360º. That’s about 563 days. Regularly. (I’m simplifying here, don’t take this as an accurate value: not only… Read more »
Alejandro
Guest
Alejandro
July 26, 2008 3:01 PM

The astronomy is very interesting for me, but some articles are very fantastic or incredibles, because sometimes you talk like if the transportation of the life was very simple, Are you forgetting the extreme difficulty of surviving in the space for the human life? So, which is the difference about the other kind of organisms?

David R.
Member
David R.
July 26, 2008 4:24 PM

I don’t think microbes surviving (or even moving along a trajectory towards) Earth is far fetched. We’ve taken extraordinary precautions to ensure that Earth-based microbes don’t “contaminate” places like Mars. We’ve seen how microbes survived amazingly hostile conditions (missions to the moon come to mind). It is a hypothesis that remains disproven….

marcellus
Guest
marcellus
July 27, 2008 12:49 AM

Ian does write terrific articles, but the idea that microbial life could travel from Venus to Earth on the solar wind is a real blast of hot air.

mewo
Member
mewo
July 26, 2008 10:11 PM

Doesn’t Earth’s magnetic field deflect most of the solar wind? That should prevent solar wind borne microbes from reaching Earth.

If there is microbial life in Venus’s atmosphere (which I doubt), it’s more likely to get blown to places like Mars. It might actually help that Mars is further from Venus than Earth is. The plume of material blown off Venus would spread out to a greater area as it moves away from the Sun and you wouldn’t be so dependent on a perfect alignment between the two planets. The plume would be more sparse, but Mars would pass through it more often.

Ripley
Guest
Ripley
July 26, 2008 10:51 PM

Yes it is possible; there is a theoretical proposition that the manly Olympus Mons was once muck bigger passing earth orbit and ebbing on Venus’s cloud top. There are even evidence of a solar system wide floods to support this. Hence the explanation for the phrase:” Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”

Dave W
Guest
Dave W
July 27, 2008 12:57 AM

TD, regarding that new scientist article: Could eukaryotes get around by the same mechanism? IIUC they’re typically about a thousand times more massive than prokaryotes.

Andrew James
Member
July 27, 2008 1:36 AM
I am far more surprised in this article that the word “panspermia” does not appear in the article nor in the replies – unless I’m missing something.. IMO, surely the origins of life on Earth is more likely the Earth, with the less likelihood of the panspermia origins (in decending order) being the nearby planets, Mars, Venus, the Solar System, and then interstellar origins. 1) The true origins our Earth-based microbial life is significantly constrained on the creation and stability of amino acids, solely based on general chemistry and the interactions of these biochemicals in water (or some other) solutions. In the argument of life’s origins beyond the Earth, I really do fail to see why these particular… Read more »
Jason
Guest
Jason
July 27, 2008 2:04 AM

Most of you guys sound like whining babies..who are you to say whats probable for life or not.We simply dont know enough to state even the probable..So maybe you should tone it down a bit and realize life itself is far more diverse than what we know.We dont even know how life is made. I say we keep looking with an open mind becuase to close it so prematurely when weve only found a surface to scratch is upsurd.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
July 27, 2008 4:01 AM

Even if ‘life’ was possible on Venus (or even Mars), it should be blown to smithereens before they could come here and pollute us with their evil, godless philosophies! Who do they think they are, for crying out load !!?

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