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Study: Venus’ atmosphere too dry for life

The uncertainty of science: A new study has found that the amount of water in Venus’ atmosphere is too low to support the possibility of life.

On Earth, Hallsworth said, microorganisms can survive and proliferate in droplets of water in the atmosphere when temperatures allow. However, the findings of the new study, based on data from several Venus probes, leave zero chance of anything living in the clouds of Venus, he said.

“Living systems including microorganisms are composed mainly of water and without being hydrated, they can’t be active and are unable to proliferate,” Hallsworth said.

Studies on microorganisms living in extreme conditions on Earth found that life can exist at temperatures as cold as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius). For water activity, which is measured on the scale from 0 to 1, the lowest survivable value is 0.585. The water activity level found in the molecules in the Venusian clouds was merely 0.004.

NASA Ames astrobiologist Chris McKay, one of the co-authors of the paper, said in the news conference that the findings of the study were conclusive and the new fleet of space missions currently being prepared for Venus will not change anything about the hope for life on Earth’s closest neighbor.

McKay can be as “conclusive” as he wants, but that really isn’t how science works. While this data is very strong evidence that there is no life on Venus, a result that should be expected given its harsh environment, it can’t preclude for certain the possibility. You can’t prove a negative in science.

At the same time, this paper puts another nail in the coffin of that very weak result, since found even weaker, in September 2020 that suggested the presence of phosphine in the atmosphere that suggested the possibility of life.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • Col Beausabre

    “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

  • JhonB

    Well, maybe life as we know it. But not necessarily life.

  • We Are Borg

    The 800 – 900 degF surface temperature and an atmosphere comprised mostly sulfuric acid probably has nothing to do with it. A Russian lander / probe survived on the surface for about an hour before it ceased transmitting. Just saying …

  • wayne

    Tone is always very difficult in Text, but this McKay guy, strikes me as a bit arrogant.


    (–warning; i have NOT watched this all the way through yet, just reviewed the intro. Lex always has good time-stamps. Do what thou wilt.)

    “Clara Sousa-Silva: Searching for Signs of Life on Venus and Other Planets”
    Lex Fridman Podcast 195 (June 27, 21)

    (OMG,– she’s a “quantum astrochemist at Harvard.” -> co-author of the 2020 paper on phosphine…)

  • Questioner

    Private mission to Venus in order to find life in the clouds.

    Sponsored by the Breakthrough Initiatives
    December 10, 2021

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