Earth’s closest celestial neighbors—Mars and Venus—couldn’t be more different in regards to the environments that each planet is home to, but two new discoveries—an ancient glacier at Mars’ equator and active volcanism on Venus—just serve to accentuate the diversity that exists amongst our planetary siblings. First up, ice: evidence of
For the last few decades NASA has been leaving few stones on the surface of Mars unturned—quite literally in some cases—in the search for extraterrestrial life within our own Solar System. But now an international team of researchers has found what may be a biosignature in the atmosphere of the
To say the environment on the surface of Venus is extreme might be viewed as an understatement by some: the hottest planet in the Solar System’s air cooks at a scorching 462ºC (864ºF), under crushing atmospheric pressure that is 92 times greater than Earth’s — and that’s not counting the corrosive effects of the sulphuric acid lacing the clouds. The result is an environment that severely limits the lifespan of manmade probes sent there, that are typically measured in timescales of mere hours, as opposed to the years-long missions enjoyed by Mars rovers.
Despite being our closest neighbor in the heavens, the planet Venus still harbors a multitude of mysteries, due primarily to its thick cloud cover, obscuring the planet’s surface from study. Space probes sent to its surface are also only able to glean a scant amount of information: because of the intense heat and pressure at Venus’s surface, most probes fail after less then an hour. Adding to the mystique of the Morning Star is a newly-found wave propagating across the planet’s atmosphere, and the idea that Venus’s dark streaks may hold microbial life.