Tuesday, September 29, 2009

David Grinspoon still thinks there might be life on Venus

My wife and I attended a lecture by astronomer David Grinspoon, "Evolution of Planetary Exploration," a survey of the solar system, exoplanet discoveries, and a comparison to Darwin's five-year trip on the Beagle. I thought it was fine, although necessarily abbreviated. My wife with less exposure to astronomy thought it was great.

Grinspoon wrote Venus Revealed, a 1998 book sizing up the scientific understanding of Venus prior to European space mission that went there several years ago. (I'm not aware of a similar book today that incorporates the newest findings, and the European space agencies are doing their usual terrible job of releasing scientific information, so it might be a while to get a good new book.) At the end of the book, Grinspoon speculates that life might have survived the boiling off of venusian oceans and live today in the higher parts of the cloud deck.

I got a chance to ask him whether he still thinks it's possible and he said yes as an outside chance, although it would require atmospheric probes to figure it out. So neither the current European mission nor the upcoming Japanese one will answer the question, and we'll have to wait for a more spectacular mission.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.