The key goals of the astrobiology community are to identify environments beyond Earth that may be habitable, and to search for signs of life in those environments. A fundamental aspect of understanding the limits of habitable environments and detectable signatures is the study of where such environments can occur. Thus, the need to study the creation, evolution, and frequency of environments hostile to habitability is an integral part of the astrobiology story. The study of these environments provides the opportunity to understand the bifurcation between habitable and uninhabitable conditions on planetary bodies. The archetype of such a planet is Earth's sibling planet, Venus, which provides a unique opportunity to explore the processes that created a completely uninhabitable environment and thus define the conditions that rule out bio-related signatures. We advocate a continued comprehensive study of our neighboring planet, to include models of early atmospheres, compositional abundances, and Venus-analog frequency analysis from current and future exoplanet data. Critically, new missions to Venus that provide in-situ data are necessary to address the major gaps in our current understanding, and to enable us to take the next steps in characterizing planetary habitability.
- Pub Date:
- August 2020
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- White paper submitted in response to the solicitation of feedback for the "2020 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey" by the National Academy of Sciences