Study: Microorganisms can thrive in the thick clouds of Earth’s ‘evil twin’

Study: Microorganisms can thrive in the thick clouds of Earth’s ‘evil twin’
Study: Microorganisms can thrive in the thick clouds of Earth’s ‘evil twin’

A new study has found that sunlight coming in through the thick clouds of Venus can support photosynthesis, which leads to the presence of microorganisms.

Scientists at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona have found evidence that photosynthesis, the process that plants use to convert water and sunlight into food, can occur throughout the day, and may even occur at night, due to levels of thermal energy or infrared radiation. emitted from the planet’s surface and atmosphere.

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In essence, the study says, light energy will be available from below and above the clouds, giving any potential microorganisms the ability to live in different cloud layers.

The findings come just months after a separate study said the planet’s clouds are too dry and do not contain enough water to sustain life.

However, the study’s lead author, Rakesh Mogul, and colleagues found that Venus clouds can be partially composed of equivalent forms of sulfuric acid, such as ammonium bisulfate. This would contain higher water levels than described in the previous study, making the clouds more accepting of life.

“Our study provides concrete support for the possibility of phototrophic and/or chemical feeding by microorganisms in the clouds of Venus,” Mogul said in a statement.

The pH levels and activity of the water are likely to fall within an acceptable range for microbial growth on Earth, while constant illumination with limited ultraviolet radiation indicates that Venus’ clouds could be habitable.

“We think Venus’ clouds would be a great target for habitability or life-detecting missions, such as those currently planned for Mars and Europa.”

It is noteworthy that both NASA and the European Space Agency are sending missions to explore the planet Venus, which is called the “evil twin of Earth.”

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The new study revealed that solar and thermal radiation in the clouds of Venus has wavelengths of lights capable of being absorbed by the photosynthetic pigments found on Earth.

The study found that sunlight that comes through Venus’s atmosphere is stripped of most of the harmful ultraviolet rays, which act similarly to Earth’s ozone.

Scientists have found that Venus receives between 80% and 90% less change in levels of ultraviolet-A (UV-A) radiation than the Earth’s surface. It is also “mainly depleted” of UV-B and UV-C rays, which are the most harmful components of UV rays.

“Therefore, we speculate that survival of microbes in a foggy, water-limited environment could include biological/chemical strategies to reduce vapor pressure and solution phase water loss, similar to microbial strategies associated with freezing point and hypothermia, inhibition of ice formation, and cloud condensation,” the scientists explain. .

Source: Daily Mail

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