Science & Non-profit

Injecting life into the Venusian atmosphere

Update (2020-9-15): I had this idea somewhere in 1988/1989 and nothing much ever happened with it. It was simply too far-fetched.

New research (Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus, Jane S. Greaves, et al.) has however just discovered that there might already be life in the Venusian atmosphere. Phosphine gas has been detected in the cloud decks of Venus and it is most likely created by life of some sort.

What struck me is that if some type of catalyst where active that created itself in the process. That this would effectively be life. And it being life would mean that would be susceptible to the forces of evolution. Meaning that however simple the original catalyst might have been, it would evolve into something evermore complex if possible. And see my article on evolution for more info on that. Interestingly that article also contains a far-fetched astronomy theory on origin of water and oxygen on planet earth.

One more interesting thought is that there is an enormous amount of CO2 in the Venusian atmosphere, so this is not being used by life as it would otherwise not be there. So either the life forms are not carbon based, or else the energy source they use is extremely limited.

As it never rains on Venus and atmospheric turbulence is intense, it is reasonable to assume that airborne dust particles could remain airborne indefinitely. There are organisms on earth that can survive and even thrive in the chemical and temperature conditions of Venus's upper atmosphere. Admittedly, they would have to be genetically modified and/or undergo selective breeding to do the same while remaining airborne, but this should not be such a problem as their basic design is that of a dust particle that has developed special mechanisms for clinging onto a surface. On earth this is essential as the rain makes sustained airborne life impossible. But on Venus the reverse is true and getting an organism to lose a trick is mostly not such a problem.

Any space probe going through the atmosphere of Venus would merely have to open a little canister with the organisms into the atmosphere. The total amount of organism released would not have to exceed one gram. Because of this low weight, a program to bring life to Venus could piggyback on an other program to Venus and could thus be very cheap indeed.

The idea that I am presenting here is one that have had since I was a student. I did a little feasibility study while I was studying and talked to some professors of the appropriate scientific disciplines. It proved to be a very interesting idea though lack of time and recourses prevented any future research to take place. Personally I am convinced that a determined program could successfully develop such an organism for a relatively low cost.

drs. Geert Poelman