back to article Rocket Lab to search for signs of life in the clouds of Venus

Rocket Lab's Peter Beck is sending a Photon spacecraft carrying a small probe to Venus, marking the culmination of a childhood ambition for the CEO. The private mission is due to launch next May, with an Electron rocket carrying the Photon spacecraft and probe into Earth orbit. The plan is to carry out a Trans Venus Injection …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    I hope they are consulting with NASA

    On proper decontamination procedures. Otherwise they may not find life, but the next mission will.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I hope they are consulting with NASA

      Any organisms evolved for earth conditions will need to evolve quickly to survive being irradiated, starved of oxygen and extremes of temperature on the journey there. When it arrives it will need to fend off clouds of sulphuric acid, 93 bar’s atmospheric pressure and 450 C heat.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: I hope they are consulting with NASA

        There's a region in the atmosphere where the pressure and temperature are approximately the same as on the surface of the Earth. Up there the sulphuric acid is a minor problem, plenty of critters on earth thrive in absurdly acidic conditions.

        Microbiomes in extremely acidic environments: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369527417302230

        At some point somebody will send a balloon to lurk high in the atmosphere and do the science from there. Covering the probe with Teflon would be more than adequate to protect it from the sulphuric acid.

        Slowing a probe down enough to prevent the balloon from being torn to shreds is rather tricky but not impossible.

        1. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: I hope they are consulting with NASA

          Slowing a probe down enough to prevent the balloon from being torn to shreds is rather tricky but not impossible.

          Wasn't that achieved by the Vega missions?

      2. teknopaul

        Re: I hope they are consulting with NASA

        Re:clouds of sulphuric acid, 93 bar’s atmospheric pressure and 450 C heat.

        A couple of cockroaches aboard should do it.

  2. Muscleguy

    New Zealand rocketry going where it has never gone before.

    We seem to have regressed to the 19thC when science was done by rich gentlemen with means such as Charles Darwin for eg. The voyage fo the Beagle was a bit like sending a probe to Venus in terms of ambition.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Darwin was not all that rich and the name of the ship "HMS Beagle" should give a clue that it was not a private mission.

      Darwin then was a 22 year old student who happened to have the required qualifications for the mission and could cover his own minor expenses over the trip.

      We're so used to seeing pictures of Darwin as an old man with his splendid beard we forget he did his formative work as a clean shaven youth.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        And we also forget that his captain, Robert Fitzroy, basically wanted a suitable companion along to keep him sane, and selected Darwin. And in later life, invented the weather forecast.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Prediction

    1 - The public will expect photos of floating alien cities.

    2 - The probe will find organics, the 'building blocks of life', and some chemicals that are indicative of life.

    3 - The mainstream boffins will explain away the findings as they have since Gilbert Levin's Viking experiments.

    Personally, I'm hoping for #1 but expecting #2 and #3.

    Still, a pint of Becks for Peter Beck.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Prediction

      A pint of Becks? You utter bastard!

  4. DJO Silver badge

    Phosphine? Probably not.

    Here's the original paper announcing the possible detection of phosphine at Venus

    Greaves et al. 2020 - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.06593.pdf

    Here's a later paper suggesting it was actually sulphur dioxide which has an absorption line at 1.123058mm which is not too distant from a phosphine absorption line at 1.123053mm.

    Lincowski et al.2021 - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2101.09837.pdf

    How about Glycine?

    Manna et al. 2020 - https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.06211

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "are we alone?"

    That question was valid fifty years ago.

    After the Hubble Deep Field experiment, the question has been answered.

    If every single pixel of our sky is full of galaxies, then life is out there. The only question is : how far from us are they ?

    1. Tom 7

      Re: "are we alone?"

      Most of the 'new' galaxies dont contain any of the elements necessary for life. They may by now but I think its extremely likely that we are amongst the first places where life has lasted for 4 billion years (and only bloody just!!) and created something with a level of intelligence that will spend days arguing what intelligence is.

      Places that made the ingredients for life earlier are more likely to have blown themselves up several times before they could go 'oh no not again'.

  6. Zebo-the-Fat
    Pint

    Crazy!

    Peter Beck is crazy.... but he's my kind of crazy!

    Good luck to him

  7. ITS Retired
    Joke

    Human Being are so arrogant that

    Earth has the only life anywhere in the universe.

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