The amount of water in the atmosphere Venus So low that even the world’s most drought-tolerant microorganisms cannot survive. A new study finds This discovery appears to have shattered last year’s hopes. molecular discovery Organisms that may have created in the scorched planet’s atmosphere were seen as indicative of the existence of life.
The new study looked at measurements from A probe that flies through the atmosphere of Venus and get information about the temperature, humidity and pressure in thick sulfuric acid clouds around the world. from these values Scientists can calculate the activity known as water. Water vapor pressure within each molecule in the cloud which is one of the factors limiting the existence of life on world.
“When we looked at the effective concentration of water molecules in those clouds, We found it to be a hundred times too low for the most resilient life on Earth to survive,” says John Hallsworth, a microbiologist at Queen̵7;s University in Belfast, UK. And the report’s lead author said at a news conference Thursday (June 24), “that’s an uncrossable distance.”
related: Venus is an entertainment place (and a tantalizing target in the search for life)
The finding is likely a disappointment for the Venus research community, which was refreshed last September by discovery of phosphineCompounds made of phosphorus and hydrogen atoms that on Earth could have been linked to life in Venus’ atmosphere. At the time, researchers suggested that phosphine might be produced by microbes living in those clouds.
Hallsworth said that on earth Microbes can survive and reproduce in atmospheric droplets when temperatures are favorable. which is based on data from several Venus probes It doesn’t make any living thing a chance. Zero in the clouds of Venus, he said.
Hallsworth said: “Living systems, including microorganisms, are made up mostly of water and are not hydrated. They are not viable and unable to reproduce.
The study of microorganisms that live in extreme conditions On Earth, it has been found that life can survive temperatures as cold as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius). For water activity, measured from a scale of 0 to 1. The minimum survival value is 0.585. The molecule found in the Venus cloud is only 0.004.
NASA Ames astrologer Chris McKay, one of the report’s co-authors, said in a press release that the study’s results are conclusive and the new fleet. space mission The preparations for Venus now will not change anything about hopes for life on Earth’s nearest neighbor.
“Our conclusions are based on direct measurements,” McKay said in a briefing. “It’s not a model. It’s not a hypothesis. NASA’s recently chosen mission to Venus will take the same measurements again — temperature, pressure — and they’ll come to very much the same conclusion because Venus doesn’t change. That kind of time scale.”
However, the researchers also looked at data from other planets. and found that the clouds of Jupiter provide water activities that are sufficient to sustain life Information collected by Galileo Explore at an altitude of between 26 and 42 miles (42 to 68 kilometers) above the surface of the gas giant. It is recommended that the water activity value be 0.585, which is above the survival threshold. Temperatures in this region can also survive temperatures around minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Jupiter is more optimistic,” McKay said, “at least it has Jupiter’s cloud layers that have a need for water. doesn’t mean alive But it means that compared to water, it will be fine.”
Researchers say high levels of ultraviolet radiation, or malnutrition, can prevent potentially life from thriving, and that all new measurements are needed to find out if they exist.
Hallsworth added that techniques used to calculate water activity could help determine the habitability of exoplanets.
“What excites me the most is that we can go down to the water molecular level for these distant planets and determine their habitability,” Hallsworth said.
The results are described in paper Published June 28 in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova Follow us on twitter @Spacedot.com and next Facebook.