Why Scientists Made Venus Flytraps That Glow

Provoking a Venus flytrap takes a certain amount of finesse. If you brush just one of the trigger hairs inside of its leaves, the plant likely won’t react. But if you trigger it again quickly enough, it will spring into action, swinging its famous mouth shut.

Waiting for a double trip probably keeps the plant from wasting energy on raindrops or other things that aren’t nutritious flies. But despite centuries of interest in the species, no one was quite certain how the plants remember the first trigger in order to act on a second.

In a paper published last week in Nature Plants, researchers reported they had found the cause: calcium ions. By inducing the flytraps to glow when calcium entered their cells, a team of scientists was able to show how the ions build up as the hairs are triggered, eventually causing the snap.

Calcium is used for conveying

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A well-timed Venus flyby looks for signs of life

Just weeks after the reported discovery of phosphine on Venus – a potential sign of life in the clouds above its hellish surface – a robot spacecraft will study the planet as it swings by on its exploration of the solar system.

The BepiColombo space probe’s flyby above Venus at two minutes before midnight ET Wednesday is a coincidence.

The “gravity slingshot” was planned years ago, long before astronomers detected traces of phosphine in the Venusian atmosphere.

But it’s the first spacecraft to get near Venus since the discovery – although probably not the last – and measure gases in the planet’s atmosphere.

“We will look at what we see in the data, and look for everything – the expected and the unexpected,” said Jörn Helbert of the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, who works on a BepiColombo instrument called the Mercury Radiometer and Thermal Infrared

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Mars At Its Brightest Since 2003 As Moon Visits Venus. What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week

Each week I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: October 12-18, 2020

This week it’s all about Mars, which will look its biggest, brightest and best in post-sunset skies since 2018 and, technically speaking, since 2003.

However, it’s also a week where the Moon wanes towards its New phase, meaning dark skies at night, gorgeous crescents in the early pre-dawn mornings early in the week, and in early evenings from Sunday. 

MORE FROM FORBESWhat’s That Really Bright ‘Star’ In The Night Sky?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020: Mars at opposition

Tonight the red planet reaches opposition,

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How could a toxic gas be a sign of life of Venus?

Scientists recently announced that they had found possible signs of life in the clouds of Venus. We probably should have suspected as much all along.

Venus is a natural place to look for life beyond Earth. It is Earth’s twin — almost the same size and structure — and closer to us than Mars, the current favorite of astronomers looking for life elsewhere in the solar system. Venus is also closer to the Sun, which provides the warmth necessary for life as we know it. In the past, a few scientists have suggested that Venus was a source of primordial life that was later seeded on Earth. That theory, lithopanspermia, never gained popularity because current conditions on Venus seemed very inhospitable to life. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Venus ensures that the planet has a runaway greenhouse effect that makes its surface incredibly hot, way

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Moon May Harbor Ancient Pieces Of Venus’ Surface

Two Yale University researchers have found a potential shortcut in sampling Venus’ ancient surface. Instead of sending a probe on a costly and extraordinarily challenging Venus sample return mission, they propose simply finding a Venusian meteorite on our own Moon.

There’s never been a bona fide detection of a Venusian meteorite on Earth. For one reason, that’s because in the last several hundred million years at least, Venus’ atmospheric pressures have been so intense that even a catastrophic impactor could not dislodge any Venusian rocks into space. 

But before Venus underwent a runaway greenhouse and morphed into the climatic hellhole it is today, it may have had liquid water oceans as late as 700

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Venus isn’t habitable — and it could be all Jupiter’s fault

As a result of Jupiter — the largest planet in our solar system — moving closer and then away from the sun in its early formation, the planet’s vast gravitational pull effectively killed off Venus’ potentially Earth-like environment, the authors of a study published in the Planetary Science Journal found.
Venus is the second closest planet to the sun, and now has a surface temperature of about 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius) — above the melting point of lead, according to NASA. This is hotter than Mercury, despite Mercury being closer to the sun.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) said that Jupiter’s movement likely accelerated Venus’ fate as an inhospitable planet.

“As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” said Stephen Kane, UCR astrobiologist, in a statement Wednesday.

“One

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When And Where You Can See Mars Shine With A ‘Harvest Moon’ While Venus Appears As ‘Double Star’

On Friday, October 2—just a day after Thursday’s full “Harvest Moon” rises at dusk—our satellite will appear to pass very close to a very bright planet Mars.

It’s going to be a special sight, and a reasonably rare one, too, because Mars is about to reach its brightest since 2003.

Do you know where and in the night sky to watch the moonrise and a Mars-rise? Or when to catch it?

Here’s exactly what you need to know to see this special celestial sight just after dusk on Friday—and the bonus sight of Venus shining super-close to bright star Regulus.

MORE FROM FORBESWhat’s That Really Bright ‘Star’ In The Night Sky?

When to

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Did NASA detect a hint of life on Venus in 1978 and not realize it?

If life does exist on Venus, NASA may have first detected it back in 1978. But the finding went unnoticed for 42 years.

Life on Venus is still a long shot. But there’s reason to take the idea seriously. On Sept. 14, a team of scientists made a bombshell announcement in the journal Nature Astronomy: Using telescopes, they’d detected phosphine, a toxic gas long proposed as a possible sign of alien microbial life, in the upper part of the planet’s thick atmosphere. The detection was a landmark in the long hunt for life elsewhere in the solar system, which has mostly focused attention on Mars and a few moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. Meanwhile, Venus, hot and poisonous, was long considered too inhospitable for anything to survive. But now, digging through archival NASA data, Rakesh Mogul, a biochemist at Cal Poly Pomona in California, and colleagues have found

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Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter
Composite of images taken by Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki of Venus. Credit: JAXA / ISAS / DARTS / Damia Bouic

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today, if Jupiter hadn’t altered its orbit around the sun, according to new UC Riverside research.


Jupiter has a mass that is two-and-a-half times that of all other planets in our solar system—combined. Because it is comparatively gigantic, it has the ability to disturb other planets’ orbits.

Early in Jupiter’s formation as a planet, it moved closer to and then away from the sun due to interactions with the disc from which planets form as well as the other giant planets. This movement in turn affected Venus.

Observations of other planetary systems have shown that similar giant planet migrations soon after formation may be a relatively common occurrence. These are among the findings of a new study published in the Planetary Science Journal.

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New Venus Balloon Mission Study Aims To Find Life By 2022

Two researchers advocate sending a quick mission to Venus to try and quell debate over whether our sister planet’s middle atmosphere does in fact harbor some sort of microbial life. To their credit, instead of standing around grinding their teeth over the issue, Andreas Hein and Manasvi Lingam, have already set forth a new balloon mission proposal specifically geared toward confirming the detection of phosphine (PH3) in Venus’ atmosphere. If funded, they say their mission could launch by 2022.

Their proposal, which is being submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, comes on the heels of this month’s earlier controversy over the tentative detection of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere. Under certain circumstances, phosphine, a flammable, toxic gas that can signal the presence of biology. 

These balloon-based probes would be slowed down by a parachute,

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