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Venus Clouds Cannot Sustain Life But Jupiter Can

For decades, Earthlings have been enthralled with Venus clouds. They create a sparkling mirror that obscures the planet’s surface. One Israeli scientist suggested in the 1950s that the clouds could conceal a world teeming with insect life capable of withstanding tremendous temperatures. There were no insects on the surface when Russia’s Venera spacecraft captured photographs of it in 1975.

The planet is a barren wasteland resulting from a runaway greenhouse effect that has raised ground temperatures to well over 850 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead. Any would-be alien lifeforms will find more temperate conditions in the clouds. Life might find a way up in the atmosphere.

That was one theory, at least. If it can happen on Earth, why can’t it happen everywhere else? Last year, research claimed to have detected high quantities of phosphine — a hazardous chemical linked to biological activity — in the cloud deck of our sister planet, bolstering the concept that bacteria might call Venus home. This sparked the idea that bacteria could produce gas in the clouds.

The likelihood that the phosphine signal was a sign of life in Venus‘ clouds became less and less likely as scientists deciphered it. The chances of a wandering colony of bacteria in the clouds took another hit on Monday. According to a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers have ruled out the prospect of life as we know it is living in the Venus clouds. It’s impossible to live in the clouds.

The issue is a lack of water supply. Water is vital for life to survive. Thus planetary scientists look for it when searching for life elsewhere in the cosmos. The clouds of Venus may appear to be an excellent place to start, but they aren’t the clouds we’re used to seeing on Earth.

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