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Life on Venus?

Scientists have long been aware of the possibility of life on Venus. Or at least in the clouds, anyway.

While the surface of our sister planet is inhospitable to life with temperatures sometimes exceeding 880° K, which is hot enough to melt lead, the temperatures in the clouds are hypothesized to be a very habitable 260–280° K, or between 8° F and 45° F.

Image credit: NASA/JPL

In the 60's, the late Carl Sagan, along with Harold Morowitz, hypothesized that life could be sustained on Venus but now it's seeming even more plausible with the discovery of dark patches in the clouds that could be caused by light-absorbing bacteria. The authors of the study are suggesting that we send a probe into the Venusian skies.

While temperatures in the atmosphere of Venus are mild enough to support life as we understand it, it's certainly not a pleasure cruise. Winds travel at about 224 miles per hour. The atmosphere is made of mostly carbon dioxide. Clouds of sulfuric acid abound. Scientists have only found evidence of trace amounts of water in the atmosphere.

But still, life is possible in the strangest of places. Take Tardigrades, which live right here on earth and can survive in environments as cold as -328° F and conditions hotter than 300° F. Some can even survive the unforgiving conditions of space. In the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, there are several kinds of bacteria that thrive in environments approaching 200°F. There's an entire group of organisms, known as Extremophiles, that live in conditions that are deadly for the vast majority of organisms.

If creatures that seem so alien can exist right here on earth, it's entirely plausible that there is life on other planets. After all, it does seem that somehow life finds a way.

To read more, check out the article at Popular Mechanics:

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