Necessary Conditions For Earthly Life Floating In The Venusian Atmosphere

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
April 9, 2024
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Necessary Conditions For Earthly Life Floating In The Venusian Atmosphere
Cloud structure of the Venusian atmosphere, made visible through ultraviolet imaging — NASA/Kevin Gill/Wikipedia

Millimeter-waveband spectra of Venus from both the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) provide conclusive evidence (signal-to-noise ratio of about 15σ) of a phosphine absorption-line profile against the thermal background from deeper, hotter layers of the atmosphere.

Phosphine is an important biomarker; e.g., the trace of phosphine in the Earth’s atmosphere is uniquivocally associated with anthropogenic activity and microbial life (which produces this highly reducing gas even in an overall oxidizing environment).

Motivated by the JCMT and ALMA tantalizing observations we reexamine whether Venus could accommodate Earthly life. More concretly, we hypothesize that the microorganisms populating the venusian atmosphere are not free floating but confined to the liquid environment inside cloud aerosols or droplets.

Armed with this hypothesis, we generalize a study of airborne germ transmission to constrain the maximum size of droplets that could be floating in the venusian atmosphere and estimate whether their Stokes fallout times to reach moderately high temperatures are pronouncedly larger than the microbe’s replication time. We also comment on the effect of cosmic ray showers on the evolution of aerial microbial life.

Hypothetical life cycle of the Venusian microorganisms. Top panel: Cloud cover on Venus is permanent and continuous, with the middle and lower cloud layers at temperatures that are suitable for life. Bottom panel: Cycle for venusian aerial microbial life, see text for details. Taken from Ref [14].

Jennifer J. Abreu, Alyxander R. Anchordoqui, Nyamekye J. Fosu, Michael G. Kwakye, Danijela Kyriakakis, Krystal Reynoso, Luis A. Anchordoqui

Comments: To be presented at the 15th Student Scholars Conference (SRAB 2024), Lehman College, April 15, 2024
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2404.05356 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2404.05356v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
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Submission history
From: Luis Anchordoqui
[v1] Mon, 8 Apr 2024 09:47:29 UTC (332 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻