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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:42 PM

Venus, Earth's Evil Twin: Once a water-rich Eden, the hellish planet could reveal...

...how to find habitable worlds.

The news item I'll briefly discuss (I believe it's open sourced, so I'll just put some teasers in for anyone who is interested) is this one: Venus is Earth’s evil twin — and space agencies can no longer resist its pull (Shannon Hall, Nature 570, 20-25 (2019))



...And yet in so many ways — size, density, chemical make-up — Venus is Earth’s double. Recent research has even suggested that it might have looked like Earth for three billion years, with vast oceans that could have been friendly to life. “That’s what sets my imagination on fire,” says Darby Dyar, a planetary scientist at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. “If that’s the case, there was plenty of time for evolution to kick into action.”

That could mean that Venus was (somewhat surprisingly) the first habitable planet in the Solar System — a place where life was just as likely to arise as it was on Earth. That alone is a reason to return to the former ocean world. “Why are we investing so much time looking for life on Mars when it only had liquid water for 400 million years?” Dyar asks. “And then there’s Venus with three billion years of water and no one loves her.”

Yet there’s no question that something went terribly wrong. Although Earth and Venus began in a similar fashion, the two have wandered down drastically different evolutionary paths — diverging perhaps as recently as 715 million years ago. That might seem like a reason not to visit, but scientists now argue that it makes the planet even more intriguing...


I have a guess about what went wrong. The Venusians discovered oil on their planet and started using it until along came the Venusian Elon Musk who said he would save the planet with wind turbines, solar cells and, um, electric cars, because everyone on Venus needed a car.

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Reply Venus, Earth's Evil Twin: Once a water-rich Eden, the hellish planet could reveal... (Original post)
NNadir Jun 2019 OP
qazplm135 Jun 2019 #1
NNadir Jun 2019 #2
qazplm135 Jun 2019 #3
NNadir Jun 2019 #4
qazplm135 Jun 2019 #9
NNadir Jun 2019 #10
qazplm135 Jun 2019 #11
brush Jun 2019 #6
qazplm135 Jun 2019 #8
brush Jun 2019 #5
Ghost Dog Jun 2019 #7

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:50 PM

1. I mean the answer is

we are looking for life on Mars because we can actually operate on that planet.

Venus is the hottest place in the Solar System that isn't the Sun...kinda hard to do much at all there, and I suspect finding signs of life will be next to impossible except MAYBE floating somewhere in the atmosphere.

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Response to qazplm135 (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 10:00 PM

2. If you read the full article, nobody is expecting to find life.

They are trying to find out what happened.

The sulfuric acid in the atmosphere would almost certain digest any amide or phosphate bonds that would be essential to life.

I think the materials science they're thinking of using, silicon carbide shielding may break the Venera record for surface survival on Venus, perhaps by a significant amount.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 10:50 PM

3. I was responding to this quote

“Why are we investing so much time looking for life on Mars when it only had liquid water for 400 million years?” Dyar asks. “And then there’s Venus with three billion years of water and no one loves her.”

I think we pretty much know what happened. Venus got way too much heat from the sun. That caused a runaway greenhouse effect which led to what we see now.

And I'm not sure even if we find a way to spend more time on the surface that we are going to find much of anything. Everything is burned, crushed, or more accurately burned and crushed, and anything we introduce is going to have to be so "sturdy" that any kind of fine examination is going to be very very hard of anything other than the atmosphere.

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Response to qazplm135 (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 11:10 PM

4. Actually, we don't know what happened.

It is suspected that out gassing of carbon dioxide caused the problem, but not proved.

I think all these space agencies are investing all this time and money and effort precisely because "what happened" is not necessarily involved with distance, and is in fact, not understood at all. I note that without it's atmospheric composition, the Earth would be a frozen planet.

Venus didn't move, and if the planetary scientists are correct, liquid water was on the surface for 3 billion years.

It may be true that some molecules indicative of past life might have survived as sulfate salts, and a piece of evidence would involve, for example, finding chiral alanine sulfate, or, perhaps, chiral 2-nitro-proprionic acid.

The experiment to confirm whether granite is present on the planet is designed to discern something about the planet's history.

My own feeling, a guess and nothing more, is that Venus may have never evolved oxygen in its atmosphere, causing water to split and hydrogen to boil off, with the resultant oxygen being present at very low concentrations being consumed by carbon and sulfur on the planetary surface.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 12:46 PM

9. we know more than enough

to make the cost-benefit ratio pretty low of finding out EXACTLY why.

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Response to qazplm135 (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 06:22 PM

10. You know more than "enough."

Obviously there is a large community of people called "scientists" who do not know "enough" in their intellectual space.

Philosophically, I believe that the highest purpose of living is to extend one's vision.

Now. I'm and old man, certainly old enough to remember the whining, in which regrettably I participated, about all the wiser ways we could have spent money than on the Apollo program.

Nevertheless I have lived long enough to see how much of our daily lives is dominated by technologies that grew out of that exercise.

Now that I have emerged out of the stupor of my youth, I have been untroubled by the horror of thinking that I know "enough" about anything. I don't. And while I feel badly for anyone who believes he or she knows enough, at this point in my life, near its end, I take great pleasure in knowing I am merely a person who is merely educated enough to know how ignorant I am.

Whether anyone cares or not, the greatest challenge before humanity is climate change. The only possible thermodynamic path to addressing it must pass through the development and use of corrosion resistant refractories. I can think of no task that could stimulate interest in that avenue of research better than a mission to Venus.

While you feel you know enough to regard Venus as a burnt up rock of no value, I personally object to your use of the editorial"we." From my perspective you have no right to it. You certainly don't speak for me.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 07:09 PM

11. there is a HUGE difference

between starting the entire space program, and trying to decide what flavor of runaway greenhouse effect took place on Venus.

We KNOW it was runaway greenhouse. We have a pretty good idea of what happened.

Do we know the great specifics of it? No. And if we had unlimited science resources, sure, knock yourself out.

But in a world where we have to, ya know, prioritize our efforts, finding out the exact flavor of Venus' journey to a hothouse is probably about 1000th on the list of priorities.

Which is probably the ANSWER to the question/lament of why we haven't been looking for traces of life on Venus.

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Response to qazplm135 (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 12:48 AM

6. Mercury has to be even hotter than Venus.

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Response to brush (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 08:14 AM

8. Except

It's not

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 12:44 AM

5. Is this from "The Onion"? Venus is too close to the effin sun.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Tue Jun 11, 2019, 03:50 AM

7. Exploration of upper layers of the atmosphere would be interesting.

"... All the other missions proposed so far aim to assess whether Venus was habitable in the past. But a balloon might be able to look for life in the only environment where it might survive today: the skies.

“You can imagine that there’s somewhere in between the hot hostile surface and the cold vacuum of outer space where there are conditions — like Goldilocks’ — that are just right for life,” Dyar says. Not only would that layer have a pleasant temperature, but it could also have nutrients, liquid water and energy from the Sun. If life ever existed on the planet, it might have been carried up to the clouds and survived there after the surface turned toxic..."

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