Scientists Plan to Send Probe to Venus in Search of Life
A joint team of U.S. and Russian scientists plan to send an unmanned aerial vehicle to Venus in search of extraterrestrial life. If all goes as planned, the probe will launch by 2015, and will examine the planet's atmosphere. While its main goal will be to determine why Venus' atmosphere rotates so fast compared to its surface, it will also seek to discover what the mysterious black streaks are that exist within the thick, sulfuric acid clouds. The scientists hope to find out why the streaks haven't mixed with the atmosphere, and how they are able to absorb ultraviolet light.
"These are questions that haven't been fully explored yet and I'm shouting as loud as I can saying that we need to explore them," says Sanjay Limaye, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a former chair of NASA's Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG).
According to Limaye, the idea that the streaks might represent microbial life in Venus' atmosphere is "a possibility that we can't overlook."
"I cannot say that there is microbial life in Venus' clouds," says Limaye. "But that doesn't mean it's not there either. The only way to learn is to go there and sample the atmosphere."