Don Lee: The atmosphere of Venus may contain indications of life

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 19, 2020

This is an interesting space note about Venus, the planet closest to us in the solar system.

The closest that Earth comes to Venus is 23.7 million miles, while Mars’ closest encounter is 34.7 million miles.

I just heard this week that the astronomers have found a compound called phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus that the scientists claim it is an indication of some sort of life.

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All the previous investigations said that the atmosphere is made up of clouds of sulfuric acid.

This doesn’t sound very promising. I don’t think it sounds like it would support life as we know it.

There are plans by Rocket Lab to send a rocket into the atmosphere of Venus in 2023. Now, NASA is planning to two missions to Venus in the next few years. The clouds obscure the surface of Venus, so we really don’t know as much about it as we do about Mars.

Venus has a constant temperature of 932F and an atmospheric pressure of nearly 10 times that of earth.

Some astronomers believe that millions of years ago, it was much like the earth, but it experienced a runaway greenhouse gas situation.

Some of the astronomers believe that, in upper atmosphere, there is a possibility that microbes could exist. It is known that phosphine can be produced by living organisms.

The astronomers claim that we humans have it in our intestinal tract. It is very toxic, but we have a lot of bugs and toxic compounds that the microbes make there.
Back to earth, the U.S. Air Force has an article announcing that a new prototype fighter has been manufactured. This is a first in over 20 years.

It has been flown, tested and broke records doing it.

Will Roper, assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force, did not elaborate what records were broken. Since it is a secret project, they cannot answer many questions about it but the U.S. Air Force is excited about the capability of it.
Roper, a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and Oxford University, oversees the technology of new concepts and design of future aircraft.

There is an opinion that it can be either crewed or unscrewed.

As I mentioned in an earlier column, an uncrewed fighter with artificial intelligence (AI) has been tested in virtual test flying and the crewed fighter was shot down by the uncrewed fighter every time.

They have built and tested this prototype in record time and Roper said they have used cutting-edge techniques to build and test a virtual version of the aircraft and then went on to actually manufacture at least one full-scale prototype and are test flying that.

It has the most complicated systems that have ever been built, Roper reported. This will put the F-35 and F-15EX programs at risk of shutting down. The industrial base for fighter design and manufacture has shrunk from 10 to only three — Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing. There is a possibility that a new company could be organized to do this cutting-edge manufacturing also.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at