The 18-month MIT-led Venus Life Finder Mission Study is now complete.
The Venus Life Finder Missions are a series of focused astrobiology mission concepts to search for habitability, signs of life, and life itself in the Venus atmosphere. While people have speculated on life in the Venus clouds for decades, we are now able to act with cost-effective and highly-focused missions. A major motivation are unexplained atmospheric chemical anomalies, including the “mysterious UV-absorber”, tens of ppm O2, SO2 and H2O vertical abundance profiles, the possible presence of PH3 and NH3, and the unknown composition of Mode 3 cloud particles. These anomalies, which have lingered for decades, might be tied to habitability and life’s activities or be indicative of unknown chemistry itself worth exploring. Our proposed series of VLF missions aim to study Venus’ cloud particles and to continue where the pioneering in situ probe missions from nearly four decades ago left off. The world is poised on the brink of a revolution in space science. Our goal is not to supplant any other efforts but to take advantage of an opportunity for high-risk, high-reward science, which stands to possibly answer one of the greatest scientific mysteries of all, and in the process pioneer a new model of private/public partnership in space exploration.
Sara Seager, Janusz J. Petkowski, Christopher E. Carr, David Grinspoon, Bethany Ehlmann, Sarag J. Saikia, Rachana Agrawal, Weston Buchanan, Monika U. Weber, Richard French, Pete Klupar, Simon P. Worden, for the VLF Collaboration