The search for alien life on Venus is getting a new funding boost

The search for alien life on Venus is getting a new funding boost

Nasavenus

NASA’s Mariner 10 spacecraft took a look at Venus in 1974.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Well that was quick. One day after scientists announced the discovery of Phosphane gas in the clouds of VenusAs the new signature of life, a new privately funded initiative will examine the possibility of tiny aliens in the Venusian atmosphere and weigh the potential of a fact-finding mission for our planetary neighbor.

The Breakthrough Initiatives, founded by the Russian entrepreneur and scientist Yuri Milner, announced the new project in a press release on Tuesday.

“It would be really meaningful to find life somewhere beyond Earth,” said Milner. “And if there is a not insignificant chance that it is right next door on Venus, exploring that possibility is an urgent priority for our civilization.”

Breakthrough also funds efforts to search for potential Radio signals from distant alien civilizations and Breakthrough Starshotaiming to send a tiny spaceship to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system outside of our own.

Venus’ new endeavors are led by MIT’s Sara Seager, a leading scientist in the search for exoplanets and signs of life beyond Earth, often referred to as biosignatures.

Seager and her colleagues were also involved in this week’s discovery previous research suggesting a hypothetical life cycle explaining how microbes might survive and have thrived up and down the poisonous atmosphere of Venus for eons.

“We are thrilled to be pushing the envelope to understand what kind of life could exist in the very harsh Venusian atmosphere and for more evidence of life that a mission to Venus might look for,” said Seager.

The details of what Breakthrough will fund, or exactly how much it will invest in new research, are little known at the moment. The important thing is that Monday’s announcement got science funders so excited that they can throw money on it immediately. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also called on Twitter on Monday “Prioritize Venus”.

It seems like Mars as the top target for our robots has fierce competition. Hold on, Earthlings.

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