David Bowie may have inspired many dreams and plans to search for life on Mars, but it appears Russia has been listening to a Lady Gaga songs and are preparing to build a Rocket #9 to take off to the planet Venus where a cosmonaut or robotic equivalent will ask the Goddess of love or some other life form to please take me to your leader. Lady Gaga can do that? Well, yes, plus a new look at old television photos from Russia’s past Venus missions which have convinced scientists that they’re looking at evidence of life on the cloudy planet. Is it wearing a seashell bikini?
“This conclusion follows from the results of the processing of archival data of a television (TV) experiment performed on the surface of Venus during the Soviet missions "Venus" in 1975-1982. One of the main was a TV experiment to study the surface of the planet. In situ tv study the surface of Venus remains an experiment, still not repeated. Unique archival data were processed using new methods, which significantly improved their detail. As a result of a new analysis of TV images obtained in the Venus missions, up to 18 hypothetically living objects were discovered.”
The Soviet Union’s Venera (Venus) space program sent eight missions to its namesake, each orbiting the planet and dropping a lander, most of which made it to the surface intact and sent back data and black-and-white “television” pictures before the intense heat destroyed them. Analysis of those pictures was limited to the technology and knowledge of the time, which seems to be why they were set aside for decades until researchers from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences like Leonid Ksanfomaliti picked them up again and took a more modern look. What they saw in those photos, according to their study published in the journal "Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk," has them excited about new missions.
“The contours of these objects resemble those of earthly creatures, such as those of a lizard, a scorpion and a mushroom. The supposed life forms changed their location in the different images, had remarkable sizes and differed from the surrounding geological formations.”
“Pareidolia!”, not "Aliens!", is the obvious response to this from those who have seen images from the Moon, Mars and other planets that look like animals and vegetables but turn out to be minerals. However, the study’s authors propose an alternative hypothesis based on the drastic differences between these objects and their immediate surroundings.
“Objects have a noticeable size and may indicate the existence of life on Venus in physical conditions that are radically different from those on earth. Earth life is based on the aquatic environment. At temperatures of 460 degrees C water cannot exist in liquid form at the landing sites of the landing vehicles.”
In other words, Venus is one of those places where life won’t look like life on Earth because of its chemical mix and lack of water. Despite the fact that the objects in the photos resemble Earth creatures and plants, they say the next missions should throw out all preconceived notions (and pareidolian assumptions) and look for something completely different (perhaps they can get Monty Python to consult).
So, it’s not the shape so much as the movements which have these scientists excited about the possibility of life on Venus. Future missions (Russia is planning one as soon as 2025) should look for a large plain to drop the lander in, test for non-carbon (nitrogen perhaps) forms of life and watch for movement.
Sounds exciting, although giant mushroom-eating scorpions would make a better song or movie.