Life on Venus.......

Nicholas Landau nlandau at eden.rutgers.edu
Thu Jan 18 12:29:10 EST 1996


egrunden at prairienet.org (Eric Grunden) writes:


>Isn't the surface of Venus similar to the surface of early
>Earth? If we innoculated Venus with a variey of thermoacidophiles
>wouldn't an atmosphere eventually form from their (or their
>evolved progeny's) metabolic byproducts? Why not?
>-- 
>			*******************
>The Spirit of Nature, a powerful force,
>	belongs and returns to its creative source.
>- Excerpted from The Collective Works of Johnny Pokerface -

Actually, the surface of venus is nothing like the early Earth.

First of all, the surface temperature is 800F.  That is 428C, which is
above the upper limit which hyperthermophiles here have been seen
to tolerate.  Secondly, as mentioned in a previous posting, all of the
water is in the form of vapor.  Even at venusion pressures (which are
enormous) water boils away.  The most common liquid substances, last
I read, were believed to be low-melting point metals.

This does not mean that self-replicating molecules could not evolve
or exist on Venus.  However, they would have to be quite different
from the ones we have here.  It has been proposed that the venusian
cloud deck, which is cooler and contains water, be seeded with
photosynthetic bacteria.  The idea is that the bacteria would
duplicate the process by which Earth's atmosphere was converted to
an oxidizing atmosphere from a reducing one, making Venus a nicer place
to live.

[soapbox rant begins below]

There is nothing immoral or improper about introducing Earthly life
to dead extraterrestrial bodies!

The Earth is rapidly becoming an inhospitable place for many kinds
of life.  If you believe Malthuss' predictions, then humanity itself
is going to suffer as a result of our own overconsumption and over-
pollution of this planet.  Efforts have been made to slow down the
growht of the population and alleviate the effects of industry and
agriculture on the biosphere.  However, in my judgement, none of
this has done any good at all.  Our problems accumulate at an
increasing rate all of the time.

We must not only attempt to curb our own economic and population
expansion, but we must find resources outside of the Earth to
exploit.  I am not proposing this as an alternative to a re-
sponsible program of growth, but as an important complimentary
step.

The sooner we can create life sustaining planets elsewhere, the
better chance we have of surviving as a species, and saving some
other species while we are at it.  Alien oceans could become home
to whales, just as people could colonize alien worlds.

The bottom line is we are in big trouble with this world.  This all
may seem like science fiction, but ozone depletion used to seem
like science fiction, too.  The natural beauty of Mars, unmarred by
life might be a thing of great value (although no human has ever
seen it,) but nothing lasts forever.  People used to think that the
rainforests were nice, too.  And the Aral Sea.  I would rather
see Mars littered with life than see life disappear from the Solar
system completely.

Ain't nothing profound.

Nick Landau
Rutgers University
nlandau at eden.rutgers.edu



More information about the Microbio mailing list