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Venusian Bacteria and Viruses?

Former Title was
Venus Atmosphere Temperature and Pressure Profiles

Shade Tree Physics

Installed 04 Feb 2001 - Latest update 14 Aug 2014.
Text additions or modifications are in bold.

A reviewer of the article (Influenza 1918, A Venus Connection?) stated that influenza viruses are designed to grow at 37 degrees Celsius [98.6 degrees Fahrenheit] and to replicate using mammalian cell enzymes and that a long period of host and pathogen co-evolution is required.

The following graphs are provided as a first step in checking up on whether or not a suitable temperature, pressure, and chemically friendly environment for the production or replication of viruses exists in the Venusian atmosphere.

These first two graphs (before my additions and extensions), were originally published by J.M. Jenkins, P. G. Steffes, D.P. Hinson, J.D. Twicken, and G.L. Tyler in their article, Radio Occultation Studies of the Venus Atmosphere with the Magellan Spacecraft, Icarus, Vol. 110, 79-94, 1994. (The kind permission to use the graphs does not constitute endorsement of the hypothesis under evaluation in this article.) See: Other Temperature and Pressure Profiles. [Thanks to the visitors from Gprs Pune, Maharashtra, India and Skylogic Germany Gmbh for finding that this link needed updating. 7 Jun 2013]

Venus atmosphere temperature vs altitude

The stated 37 degrees C (which is the average human body temperature prior to viral attack) corresponds to 310 Kelvin (K) (Celsius plus 273). If we enter the Venus altitude-versus-temperature graph at 310 K and go straight up (red line) to the temperature profile, and then horizontally to the left axis we find a corresponding altitude of 52.5 kilometers (33 miles).

Pressure vs altitude - Venus atmosphere
Now, as a rough cross-check, we enter the Venus altitude-versus-atmospheric pressure graph at 1000 millibars (the Earth's average sea level atmospheric pressure) and go up to intersect the altitude-pressure profile line, then across to the vertical axis where we find the corresponding altitude of 49.5 kilometers (31 miles). This altitude is only three kilometers (or six percent) different than what we found from the temperature graph.

So, in spite of the surface temperature of Venus being on the order of 864 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Venusian surface pressure being on the order of 90 earth atmospheres, there is a region in the Venusian atmosphere which approximates that of earth at sea level with respect to temperature and pressure. But there may be problems.

52.5 kilometers above the Venusian surface turns out to be in the middle of the Venusian cloud blanket which is made up largely of sulfuric acid droplets. (The cloud bottoms are estimated to be 30 to 35 km above the surface and the tops are estimated to be from 60 to 75 km above the Venusian surface.) This upper altitude limit is perhaps a fuzzy estimate. The cloud tops temperature has been reported to be 260 K (-13 degrees C or 9 degrees F). According to the temperature profile above (green line) this temperature corresponds to an altitude of 58 km (36 miles) for the cloud tops. (For stratus clouds there will be thermal equilibrium between the atmosphere and the cloud tops.)

Is this acidic cloud environment good or bad for the formation of viral precursors and/or virus building processes? (a) Do sulfuric acid (H2SO4) droplets in a reducing atmosphere assist or preclude the formation or preservation of amino acids and other RNA building blocks? (b) Can sufficient solar ultraviolet energy penetrate the clouds to this depth? If either answer is harmful to the hypothesis then we can ask whether or not the Venusian atmosphere above the clouds, say 60 km (37 miles) and up, could be (or not be) a candidate region for the biological processes in question. The lack of sufficient ultraviolet penetration will not be a problem above the clouds. So, what are the lowest temperature and pressure constraints for reasonable biological activity?

Another factor that must be dealt with is whether or not the Venusian atmosphere near the cloud tops contains the chemical elements (in sufficient quatities) required to build RNA molecules as well as their cellular (bacterial) hosts. The findings from a search for this information will be placed here.

Here is a chart showing temperature versus pressure for the Venusian atmosphere. It is derived from the two graphs above.

Temperature vs Pressure -
Venusian atmosphere
[Installed on 16 Aug 2011.]
The Digital Dutch 1976 Standard Atmosphere Calculator was used in plotting Earth's standard atmosphere curve.

The following data table and graphs may show evidence of bacteria and viruses in the Venusian atmosphere that have been being transported to earth periodically by the solar wind . The data table is extracted from Donald Barber's 1963 article, "Invasion by Washing Water."(2) [Added 20 May 2012. Latest update 31 Jul 2014.]

                                                            Inf.      Nearest     Time 
Event   Date of          Degree of Bacterial Activity       Conj.   Geomagnetic    Lag
         Onset                                              Date       Storm     (Days)
   a  1937 Jun  5    Water-borne infection very severe                  1937
1  b  1938 Aug 31     first phase, less severe in           1937        Apr        41
   c  1939 Feb  6     recurrent outbreaks. Long            Apr 18      24-25*  
                      continued activity.                              26-27 
2     1948 Jul 26    Severe                                 1948        1948       66
                                                           Jun 24     May 21-22
3  a  1956 Jul 23    Water-borne infection preceded by      1956        1956       61
   b  1957 Jul 28     airborne yeast like organisms.       Jun 22     May 23-25
                      Very severe in initial stages.
4     1958 May  8    Relatively slight and short lived.     1958        1958       57**
                                                           Jan 28      Feb 11*
   a  1959 Jun 17    Moderate and short lived.              1959        1959       35
5                                                           Sep 1    May 11-12*
   b  1959 Nov  2    Slight but long continued.                       Sep 3-4      59
6     1961 Jun 21    Moderately severe; short lived.        1961        1961       67
                                                           Apr 10     Apr 14-15
   *Signifies "great" geomagnetic storm.    **value is actually 87

Barber used the above table to draw attention to the geomagnetic storms which happen to occur near the times of Venus inferior conjunctions as a causal effect leading to bacterial transfers from Venus to earth. The following graph uses his data to focus on the relation between the inferior conjunctions themselves and the timing of the observed semi-periodic bacterial invasions. [Added 31 Jul 2014.]

Barber's Bacterial Invasions vs Venus inferior conjunctions

New ILI Outbreaks vs Venus inferior conjunctions

[Added 19 May 2012. Latest Update, 14 Aug 2014.] See Ref(3).

Back in about 2004 I found a reference to a 1967 outbreak of Influenza A(H3N2) in birds in Guandong Province, China. The outbreak started on 30 October which would have been 61 days following the 29 August Venus inferior conjunction. I currently cannot find the reference to that outbreak, so that event has been removed from the graph above.

For an example of a suggested advanced outbreak see the Special Problem in the last half of West Nile Virus.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the following web page to read about a possible prophylactic against lipid coated viruses.
BHT's Use as an Antiviral [Added 30 Aug 2012.]


(1) Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, MacMillan and Company, New York, (1950), pp 59-60.

(2) Donald R. Barber, "Invasion by Washing Water," Perspective, 5, 201-208 (1963)
The Focal Press Ltd., 31 Fitzroy Square, London, W.I.
The Focal Press Inc., 20 East 46th Street, New York (10017) N.Y., U.S.A. [See data table on page 207.]

(3) Robert S. Fritzius, Is Venus a New Planet?, Poster No. 65.01, American Astronomical Society - Division for Planetary Sciences annual meeting at Orlando, FL, October 7-12, 2007.

Related Links/Articles

J. K. L. Leong, W. W. Schultz, E. Zebovitz, and N. A. Schlamm, System for Studying Uninfected and Virus-Infected Cell Cultures in Hyperbaric Chambers Applied Microbiology, 1973 September; 26(3): 258263. [Added 10 Nov 2013]

A curious cold layer in the atmosphere of Venus - Venus Express - European Space Agency. Chilly layer of air (around -75 degrees Centigrade) at 125 Km altitude. [Added 26 Feb 2013.]

An Alternate View of Venus - John Ackerman [Added 3 Jul 2012]

Acidic clouds of Venus could harbour life - NewScientist.com 26 Sep 2002.

Chemical that could power microbes is found at Jupiter moon. The "signature" for sulfuric acid, found in acid rain and car batteries on Earth, has been found on Europa. ... Ken Nealson, head of JPL's astrobiology unit said the acid's presence excited him about the possibility of life on Europa. ... Bacteria are very good at exploiting chemical energy sources, even inorganic sources like sulfuric acid, NASA's Mark Anderson said.
Source: CNN.com sci-tech > space > story page 01 Oct 1999. [Page no longer available.]

Defining Life "We can conceive of chemistries that might occur in sulfuric acid as a solvent as on Venus." Astrobiology Magazine, 5 Aug 2002.

Anne M. Rosenthal, Prospecting for Viruses, Astrobiology Magazine, 4 Aug 2002. "Under scalding acidic conditions, scientists wonder, how do life processes function?" ... "To me, the most interesting aspect is why the RNA does not hydrolyse, as it should quite rapidly according to general phosphate chemistry if at 90 degrees C and pH 2."

Comments/questions? Contact Robert Fritzius
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