Friday, April 5, 2013

VEXAG Update at NASA's Planetary Science Subcommittee meeting

Yesterday and today, NASA's Planetary Science Subcommittee met at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. Here is the agenda for the meeting, which was available for remote participants via teleconference.

During today's session, Dr. Lori Glaze (current VEXAG chair) presented the VEXAG report.  She outlined
  • Recent activities,
  • Results of the annual VEXAG meeting last November,
  • VEXAG Endorsements (including my favorite, the use of stratospheric balloon observatories), and
  • Plans for updating the Goals, Objectives, and Investigations document by the end of the year.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Scorpion-like Life Discovered on Surface of Venus?

In a recent paper published in Solar System Research (Ksanfomality, 2012), revered senior statesman of Russian planetary science Leonid Ksanfomality reported the detection of possible life forms on Venus.

Using modern image enhancement techniques to re-analyze the panoramic images captured by Veneras 9 and 13 (in 1975 and 1982, respectively), Ksanfomality discovered objects that he observed moving,
"Scorpion" appeared in image V-13-1-6 BW at the
90th minute after landing of Venera 13.  It is absent in
subsequent images.
changing shape, and disappearing from view of the cameras (the most interesting one he labeled as the "Scorpion").  He speculated that these indigenous fauna were disturbed from their hiding places in the soil when the spacecraft touched down, and made their way back to safety.

A number of scientists responded to this report in the same issue, heaping equal doses of skepticism and respect on the senior scientist and his work.  They conclude that the objects identified are abiotic, and that any apparent movement was the result of image processing artifacts and/or changing shadows cast by clouds.

Even though this is a false alarm for current life on Venus, the jury is still out on whether life may still exist below the surface, or in the thick cloud cover.  More to come.  Happy April 1st!


Ksanfomality, L. (2012). Venus as a natural laboratory for search of life in high temperature conditions: Events on the planet on March 1, 1982 Solar System Research, 46 (1), 41-53 DOI: 10.1134/S0038094612010042