Is there life on Venus? American scientists prepare for space missions


A group of scientists think they’ve detected signs of life. Venus and America intends to find the truth through a combination of public and private missions to Earth’s neighbor.

NASA making plans for a no-crew trek Venus to answer questions about life on other planets before the end of the decade.

new attention Venus It was spurred by the apparent discovery of phosphine gas in the planet’s atmosphere last year by a UK-led research team. Scientists used powerful telescopes to explore the gas.

On Earth, phosphine is associated with life. open VenusScientists are trying to figure out if this is a sign of life.

In June, NASA chose two new missions: DAVINCI+, focused Venus‘ atmosphere and VERITAS, focused Venus‘ surface. Tom Wagner, one NASA The scientist leading the Discovery Program that selected the missions said the DAVINCI+ mission will measure phosphine.

“The potential discovery of phosphine, or the probability that phosphine was discovered in the earth’s atmosphere. Venus, came like lightning to this community, didn’t it?” said Mr. Wagner. “Because I was like, ‘Hey, some people think life can survive in an atmosphere. Venus even if it doesn’t survive on the surface.’ That’s a really intriguing question.”

VenusThe second planet from the Sun and Earth’s neighbor, it is the brightest natural object other than the moon in Earth’s night sky. But traditionally, Earth’s other neighbor, Mars, has captured the imagination and inspired stories of extraterrestrials.

Potential phosphine gas discovery Venus It provoked a fierce debate about the possibility of life on the brightly lit and extremely hot planet. Some scientists argued that UK-led scientists misinterpreted the data.

MIT planetary scientist Sara Seager, co-author of the UK-led research team’s study, said she was willing to examine more information, but said it was not just phosphine that was unexpectedly detected. Venus. He said he had other evidence of things. VenusNonsensical atmosphere, including small amounts of molecular oxygen and “temporary detection of ammonia NH3”.

“It’s like someone who leaves clues, you know?” said Mrs. Seager. “It’s like a forensic crime scene, we have a puzzle together and you can’t just say, ‘Oh, that means life exists. Because it isn’t, but it’s not just phosphine.”

Mr. Wagner I said NASA‘s team is considering a subtle modification of devices to measure trace amounts of phosphine in the body. Venus‘ an atmosphere he might otherwise miss.

NASA He said both the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions, which cost $500 million each, aim to study the “lost habitable” world. Venus.

By NASA, Venus It could be the first habitable world in our solar system with an ocean and an Earth-like climate. Mr. Wagner I said he is waits NASAtheir upcoming mission to rewrite textbooks Venus and serves as the rediscovery of the planet.

“It’s not just going out there and measuring phosphine, it’s actually really going and understanding how the planet works as a system, if phosphine is there, how it’s produced, and what other markers for life could be your life precursors, and habitability in general. questions – that’s really what we’re getting at,” said Mr. Wagner I said.

The DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions will take approximately six months to reach Earth from Earth. Venus, by NASA officers. Mr. Wagner VERITAS said it will be in orbit Venus DAVINCI+ will descend into the atmosphere in about 40 minutes, while mapping the planet for at least a few years. When DAVINCI+ hits Venus‘ will have about 10 minutes to take readings before succumbing to the planet’s surface temperature, which can reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASAfocus Venus it is not temporary. Both missions are expected to start between 2028 and 2030, but NASA already taking steps to make other trips Venus possible. In June, NASA issued a request for partners to help develop “Hot Working Temperature Technology” for Venus which Mr. Wagner It was about making electronics, batteries, and radios that could withstand extreme heat.

long term outlook NASA It stands in stark contrast to the strategies of billionaire Jeff Bezos, who plans to visit space later this month, and Elon Musk, who has plans to colonize Mars.

NASA‘s careful slow progress is part of the approach that has sustained the agency throughout its history and allowed it to exceed expectations.

“We use habitability when we say, ‘OK, we’re not looking for a living creature walking around,’ right? “We are trying to understand how life could have come about,” he said. Wagner I said. “Heck, if we see life, that’s great. But you know, if we don’t, that’s still another piece of the puzzle. ”

if there is life on VenusSeager said he thinks this will be associated with the planet’s cloud droplets, and his team is working on a privately funded mission to study the droplets. His team also works with Rocket Lab, a California-based company, and has made hunting plans for life. Venus‘ clouds on a mission scheduled for 2023.

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