The Planet Venus

Ringo

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Speaking of Venus, I noticed it in the sky tonight and it was massive (or very bright, anyway). Is it closer to Earth currently?

I saw it last night too and it was beautiful.

Thanks for the explanation @eburacum
 

GNC

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Yes, many thanks @eburacum ! So it's actually at its farthest away point when we can see it most clearly? This is like the childhood revelation that the Earth is closest to the Sun in Winter.
 

eburacum

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Well, not really. The point of maximum elongation is just the edge of the orbit as seen from Earth; when it is behind the Sun it is even further away, but you can't see it then, either.
 

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MIT are reporting the same thing. Phosphine gas within the supposed habitable zone of Venus' atmosphere. A gas which we supposedly know of no abiological sources for.
 

EnolaGaia

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EnolaGaia

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Here are the bibliographic details and abstract for the published report on the Venusian phosphine discovery. The full report is accessible at the link below.

Greaves, J.S., Richards, A.M.S., Bains, W. et al.
Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus.
Nat Astron (2020).
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1174-4

Abstract
Measurements of trace gases in planetary atmospheres help us explore chemical conditions different to those on Earth. Our nearest neighbour, Venus, has cloud decks that are temperate but hyperacidic. Here we report the apparent presence of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venus’s atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms. Single-line millimetre-waveband spectral detections (quality up to ~15σ) from the JCMT and ALMA telescopes have no other plausible identification. Atmospheric PH3 at ~20 ppb abundance is inferred. The presence of PH3 is unexplained after exhaustive study of steady-state chemistry and photochemical pathways, with no currently known abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery. PH3 could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of PH3 on Earth, from the presence of life. Other PH3 spectral features should be sought, while in situ cloud and surface sampling could examine sources of this gas.

FULL ARTICLE:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1174-4#citeas
 

Bigphoot2

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I was really disappointed to read the BBC's report
On Earth, phosphine is associated with life, with microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins, or in oxygen-poor environments such as swamps.
For sure, you can make it industrially, but there are no factories on Venus; and there are certainly no penguins
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538

No penguins on Venus, well thank you BBC for ruining my day!
 

Mythopoeika

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Phosphine is also present in Jupiter's atmosphere.
I wouldn't have thought life would be possible on either planet, what with the heat and high levels of radiation.
 

EnolaGaia

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The researchers / authors emphasize that we're unaware of natural phosphine production except by organisms, and for all we know the Venusian phosphine may be generated by some non-organismic process we simply haven't seen on earth.
 

Tunn11

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I was really disappointed to read the BBC's report

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538

No penguins on Venus, well thank you BBC for ruining my day!
Well there goes my theory that Adamski's aliens were abducting penguins to work in Venusian sweatshops.

However can we rule out contamination by the various probes sent by us? I bet no one thought it would be necessary to ensure no Earth bugs made it to Venus with the same care that would be used on a Mars/Europa/Enceladus mission.
 

Kondoru

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Its certainly an interesting discovery
 

packshaud

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ramonmercado

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You disappointment can't be bigger than mine. I'm old enough to have read at libraries a lot of books on the jungles, swamps and oceans of Venus--and then science ruined my childhood.

You might like this anthology:

Old Venus, a "retro Venus science fiction"-themed anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. All of the stories are set on the planet Venus as styled in the pre-space probe pulp magazines of the 1930s through the 1950s, in which it is a planet where humans could live.

You get a mostly water-world with a few volcanic islands, Venus with 85% water but two big continents, marshy Venus, a tide locked Venus where only a narrow strip is habitable. Nazis, winged men, Edgar Rice Burroughs style, Cold War continued on Venus, even a Jeeves & Wooster pastiche.

Great stuff.

The anthology includes 17 stories
https://www.tor.com/2018/07/19/reki...ited-by-george-r-r-martin-and-gardner-dozois/
 

packshaud

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You might like this anthology:

Old Venus, a "retro Venus science fiction"-themed anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. All of the stories are set on the planet Venus as styled in the pre-space probe pulp magazines of the 1930s through the 1950s, in which it is a planet where humans could live.

You get a mostly water-world with a few volcanic islands, Venus with 85% water but two big continents, marshy Venus, a tide locked Venus where only a narrow strip is habitable. Nazis, winged men, Edgar Rice Burroughs style, Cold War continued on Venus, even a Jeeves & Wooster pastiche.

Great stuff.

The anthology includes 17 stories
https://www.tor.com/2018/07/19/reki...ited-by-george-r-r-martin-and-gardner-dozois/
There is a site about this stuff, Solar System Heritage.
https://www.solarsystemheritage.com/

An anthology was published, Vintage Worlds. Other two books are planned, but I don't think they are going to meet the funding needs (6500 USD, they are still short of about 3100 USD, needed in 10 days):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/foundershouse/vintage-worlds-2-and-vintage-worlds-3

Now, with that said, I'm having a hard time with all science fiction, lately. If you go deep into it, most science fiction is equally impossible. Faster-than-light travel, for example, is a big offender. Very few books are written in the so-called "hard science fiction" style; of these, I like Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 2015.
 

ramonmercado

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That's right. Apart from the fact that the atmosphere there is poisonous, the 50km level is probably the most Earthlike environment in the solar system. Same temperature, same pressure, same gravity.
Here are a few images I've made of balloon habitats in various non-Earthlike planetary atmospheres; the universe is so inhospitable, that these locations might be the best we can get.
med_Cloud_Cities_on_a_Jovian_world.jpg

med_landis_balloon.jpg

med_Skulk4.png

med_cloudscape.jpg

They exist! Operated and inhabited by sentient penguins.
 
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eburacum

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Probably a false positive, but it would be great if those venusians really existed.
 

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Carson Napier's anotar becomes a possibility.
 

EnolaGaia

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Layering in certain large Venusian surface features suggests they were formed by considerable volcanic activity (absent evidence to date of their being sedimentary).
Venus’ Ancient Layered, Folded Terrain Points to Volcanic Origin

An international team of researchers has found that some of the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, have layering that seems consistent with volcanic activity. The finding could provide insights into the enigmatic planet’s geological history.

Tesserae are tectonically deformed regions on the surface of Venus that are often more elevated than the surrounding landscape. They comprise about 7% of the planet’s surface, and are always the oldest feature in their immediate surroundings, dating to about 750 million years old. In a new study appearing in Geology, the researchers show that a significant portion of the tesserae have striations consistent with layering.

“There are generally two explanations for tesserae – either they are made of volcanic rocks, or they are counterparts of Earth’s continental crust,” says Paul Byrne, associate professor of planetary science at North Carolina State University and lead author of the study. “But the layering we find on some of the tessera isn’t consistent with the continental crust explanation.” ...

“While the data we have now point to volcanic origins for the tesserae, if we were one day able to sample them and find that they are sedimentary rocks, then they would have had to have formed when the climate was very different – perhaps even Earth-like,” Byrne says.

“Venus today is hellish, but we don’t know if it was always like this. Was it once like Earth but suffered catastrophic volcanic eruptions that ruined the planet? Right now we cannot say for certain, but the fact of the layering in the tesserae narrows down the potential origins of this rock.” ...

FULL STORY: https://scitechdaily.com/venus-ancient-layered-folded-terrain-points-to-volcanic-origin/
 

Comfortably Numb

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Grand claims' of life on Venus lack evidence, skeptics say

Source: livescience.com
Date: 23 September, 2020

Last week, a team of researchers told the world that they had detected a molecule in the upper cloud layers of Venus typically only created by living creatures here on Earth.

The blockbuster announcement of finding phosphine in the clouds of Venus made a major splash in the news. But pushback began appearing even as details of the results were coming to light.

In the days since, scientists have had some time to articulate their criticisms, which fall into two main camps. On one side, there are those who question the detection itself and whether the team has definitely seen what they claim to have seen. And a second attack heavily scrutinizes the interpretation and whether or not life is a good conclusion to arrive at.

Even those who are skeptical believe the findings to be intriguing. Venus has a hot and hellish surface, but the idea that life might exist in its relatively balmy upper atmosphere has been around for a long time. Everyone understands that this is not the final word on the matter, which is likely to take years to fully sort out.

"Obviously if it's correct, it's an extremely cool result and potentially has profound implications," John Carpenter, an observatory scientist at the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile, told Live Science. "But grand claims demand grand evidence."

[...]

https://www.livescience.com/skepticism-life-on-venus.html
 

Mythopoeika

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"Obviously if it's correct, it's an extremely cool result and potentially has profound implications," John Carpenter, an observatory scientist at the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) in Chile, told Live Science. "But grand claims demand grand evidence."
His next film will be called Ghosts of Venus.
 

EnolaGaia

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... The blockbuster announcement of finding phosphine in the clouds of Venus made a major splash in the news. But pushback began appearing even as details of the results were coming to light.

In the days since, scientists have had some time to articulate their criticisms, which fall into two main camps. On one side, there are those who question the detection itself and whether the team has definitely seen what they claim to have seen. And a second attack heavily scrutinizes the interpretation and whether or not life is a good conclusion to arrive at. ...

With regard to the first form of pushback ... Review of the data from the 1978 Pioneer 13 mission is consistent with this recent phosphine claim.
Did NASA detect a hint of life on Venus in 1978 and not realize it?

If life does exist on Venus, NASA may have first detected it back in 1978. But the finding went unnoticed for 42 years.

... But now, digging through archival NASA data, Rakesh Mogul, a biochemist at Cal Poly Pomona in California, and colleagues have found a hint of phosphine picked up by Pioneer 13 — a probe that reached Venus in December 1978.

"When the [Nature Astronomy paper] came out, I immediately thought of the legacy mass spectra," Mogul told Live Science. ...

Mogul and his coauthors were broadly familiar with the data from the missions, he said. "So, for us, it was a natural next step to give the data another look. As such, after consulting with my co-authors, we identified the original scientific articles, and promptly started looking for phosphorous compounds."

The discovery, published to the arXiv database Sept. 22 and not yet peer reviewed, doesn't tell researchers much beyond what was reported in Nature Astronomy — though it does make the presence of phosphine (made up of a phosphorus atom and three hydrogens) even more certain, they said. The 1978 data comes from the Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS), one of several instruments that descended into Venus' atmosphere as part of the Pioneer 13 mission. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/life-on-venus-pioneer-13.html

PRE-REVIEW DRAFT OF REPORT: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2009/2009.12758.pdf
 
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