Life on Venus

John Cherwonogrodzky jcherwon at dres.dnd.ca
Thu Jan 18 16:34:40 EST 1996


Dear Eric Grunden:
     In the past year there have been a few articles in Discovery magazine 
about water and ice on the moon and Mercury at their south poles. Apparently 
regions perpetually in the shade and without an atmosphere can hold onto their 
water. Unfortunately, Venus with its thick cloud cover may not be so lucky.
     I'm not sure what the upper limit temperature for life on earth is. Years 
ago, I heard that some organisms at the hot ocean vents existed at 400 C 
(didn't boil because of high pressure) and died at 100 C because it was too 
cold. However, recently I haven't seen anything like this and most quotes are 
just marginally above 100 C.
     I always thought that proteins denatured around 100 C but apparently some 
simple proteins can take very high temperatures such as what you would find on 
Venus.
     Could Venus have life or proto-life based on silicon (e.g. opals are 
silicon hydrates) or sulphur (e.g. colloidal sulphur has unique properties)?
     There was a note posted that we shouldn't tamper with a planet lest we 
repeat the rabbit/Australia mistake. Should it go both ways? If we ever do 
find life out there, should it be left there rather than being brought back 
for study?
      Take care...John



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