Venus’ night side as seen in infrared from the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki. According to new research, photosynthesis might be occurring in the clouds of Venus, during both day and night, both above and below the clouds. Image via ISAS/ JAXA/ CalPolyPomona.
Is there life on Venus? That might sound like an odd, even absurd, question, given the extremely hostile conditions on the planet’s surface. After all, on Venus, it’s hot enough to melt lead. But, as we were reminded last year with the discovery of phosphine, there’s still the potential for microbial life in Venus’ atmosphere. Although the clouds are very acidic, temperatures and pressures become Earth-like at mid-altitudes. Now, a new study announced by researchers at CalPolyPomona in California shows that Earth-like photosynthesis in Venus’ atmosphere is possible.
Biochemist Rakesh Mogul at CalPolyPomona led the tantalizing new peer-reviewed study, which was published in Astrobiology on September 27, 2021.
Photosynthesis in Venus’ atmosphere could support life
In essence, the study supports the possibility of phototropism – the growth of organisms in response to light – in Venus’ atmosphere. The paper reports that:
We present photophysical and chemical arguments for the potential of phototrophy in Venus’ clouds or the harnessing of ...