Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life On Venus Or Not?

It wasn't taken too seriously, but the recent news that a Russian probe may have captured images of life on the surface of Venus was not immediately dismissed either.

We have come a long way from the days of believing that we are the only life in the universe (at least most of us have) and today it seems we are open to the idea life can exist not only as we know it, but also in ways which are completely alien to us.

When Leonid Ksanfomaliti, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, published his article in the journal Solar System Research, describing images taken by the Venera 13 landing probe (1982) which he posited could be alien forms of life, people took notice.

Why couldn't there be life on Venus? So what if the atmosphere is poisonous to us? So what if the temperatures would burn us to a crisp? Life on Earth often thrives in places where human beings wouldn't last five seconds. The bottom of the ocean, where pressures are so great we would be crushed instantly, not to mention the fact we cannot breathe underwater, is alive with an abundance of life.

However, despite the modest excitement generated by Ksanfomaliti's article, NASA today responded by saying the images in the photos were most definitely debris deposited there by the lander itself. In fact, in at least two of the images, one of the items in question had been discussed at great length at the time as being in the way of a soil sample probe. Meaning, engineers at the time knew exactly what it was and where it came from.

So, it now seems we are back to having no new evidence for life anywhere outside of Earth. But, we have certainly proven that earthlings are not only ready for the news, they are anxious to hear it.

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