Never mind life on Mars

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Message 2057055 - Posted: 14 Sep 2020, 15:28:08 UTC

Could there be life on, or more accurately in the clouds above, Venus:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538
Bob Smith
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Message 2057059 - Posted: 14 Sep 2020, 16:34:28 UTC - in response to Message 2057055.  

What is the temp there ?
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Message 2057060 - Posted: 14 Sep 2020, 16:47:28 UTC - in response to Message 2057059.  
Last modified: 14 Sep 2020, 16:48:29 UTC

What is the temp there ?

Just above the clouds, a very pleasant 'shirt sleeves' environment.

Small shame about no solid ground there unless you can walk on air.

There are also the small spoilers of sulfuric acid and radiation to tolerate...


All very tantalising for what has been found!

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Message 2057062 - Posted: 14 Sep 2020, 17:09:43 UTC

If life can exist in Venus' highly acidic atmosphere, it shows that life is capable of finding a way to adapt and thrive under a very wide range of conditions. Can anyone show that substantial amounts phosphine gas can arise naturally, and in the absence of life? Apparently not, so far at least. It seems that even the very nearest planet to Earth is inhabited, albeit probably with microscopic forms of life that float continuously in Venus' atmosphere.
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Message 2057178 - Posted: 16 Sep 2020, 15:06:22 UTC

Venus' upper atmosphere is extremely dry, which would indicate a necessary adaptation in that respect, in any life found there. Water would not exist in quantities needed for life as we know it. This argues against the possibility of microbes carried by space probes from Earth contaminating Venus' atmosphere, which has been suggested, elsewhere. Phosphine is highly perishable, so whatever is making it must be flourishing, and replenishing it all the time.
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Message 2057204 - Posted: 16 Sep 2020, 23:59:08 UTC - in response to Message 2057178.  

The simplest explanation is an error in their spectroscopy. I think they were looking at the signature caused by sulphuric acid.
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Message 2057209 - Posted: 17 Sep 2020, 0:55:29 UTC - in response to Message 2057204.  

The simplest explanation is an error in their spectroscopy. I think they were looking at the signature caused by sulphuric acid.

That would be 'very surprising' for that to have been missed in all the reviews... Have you any data for that conjecture?


Note that the paper has been a number of years in the making including multiple observations to confirm their results...

Extraordinary claims and all that?... What data is there for or against?


All good science!

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Message 2057211 - Posted: 17 Sep 2020, 1:07:51 UTC - in response to Message 2057204.  

The simplest explanation is an error in their spectroscopy. I think they were looking at the signature caused by sulphuric acid.

https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/news/life-on-venus-evidence-microbial-phosphine/
The astronomers used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii to detect phosphine around Venus, then turned to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile for follow-up observations.

In both cases they observed Venus at a wavelength of about 1 millimetre, enabling them to see beyond the visible spectrum detectable by the human eye.
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Message 2057317 - Posted: 18 Sep 2020, 16:23:07 UTC
Last modified: 18 Sep 2020, 16:24:47 UTC

The ESA/JAXA Mercury probe, BepiColombo, will pass near Venus on October 15th, 2020, less than a month from now, and again on August 10th, 2021. It carries instruments that cover the spectral wavelength of phosphine. In both instances, they will look for this gas in Venus' atmosphere.
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Message 2057409 - Posted: 20 Sep 2020, 20:20:11 UTC - in response to Message 2057204.  

The simplest explanation is an error in their spectroscopy. I think they were looking at the signature caused by sulphuric acid.


This question was covered in the seminal paper: 'Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus', by J. Greaves, etal. (Nature Astronomy). They noted the respective wavelengths, carefully examined the issue of the spectral line of phosphine -- PH4, being contaminated by that of sulphuric acid--SO2, and found that, at most, only a small amount of the absorption line attributed to phosphine could be caused by sulphuric acid. To put this matter in perspective, the two spectral lines in question are approximately 535 MegaHertz apart. No other potentially contaminating spectral lines were found.
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Message 2057426 - Posted: 21 Sep 2020, 12:35:50 UTC - in response to Message 2057209.  

An unlikely observation and claim begs for an alternate explanation.
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Message 2057434 - Posted: 21 Sep 2020, 15:11:33 UTC
Last modified: 21 Sep 2020, 15:15:40 UTC

I agree. An alternate explanation is just what the astronomers involved in this discover tried to find, as their paper makes clear. Having found no other reasonable explanation for the presence of the phosphine, they urged other scientists to suggest one.
They already admit that some sort of non-biological process could be responsible for the supposed signs of life in Venus' atmosphere. It appears that all of those alternate explanations suggested so far have been speculative and unsubstantiated by evidence, or are unworkable, on their face.

The more time that passes without a cogent alternate explanation, the more likely the 'life on Venus' hypothesis appears.
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Message 2057448 - Posted: 21 Sep 2020, 18:53:10 UTC - in response to Message 2057434.  

At what temperature would the putative life have to tolerate ? Should be no speculation here.
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Message 2057451 - Posted: 21 Sep 2020, 18:59:37 UTC - in response to Message 2057448.  
Last modified: 21 Sep 2020, 19:01:36 UTC

Initially the temperature of the fluid released from hydrothermal vents is extreme - it can reach over 400°C. But despite the scalding heat, the environment around the vents is habitable for a range of animals.
That's here on earth.
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Message 2057454 - Posted: 21 Sep 2020, 20:06:51 UTC - in response to Message 2057448.  

At what temperature would the putative life have to tolerate ? Should be no speculation here.


In the cloud decks in Venus' atmosphere, where the phosphine gas was found, about 50 kilometers altitude, the temperature should be about 300 Kelvins ( 27 degrees C., 80 degrees F. ) So, quite tolerable for life, it would seem.
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