“Mars is much closer to the characteristics of Earth. It has a fall, winter, summer and spring. North Pole, South Pole, mountains and lots of ice. No one is going to live on Venus; no one is going to live on Jupiter.” -Buzz Aldrin

When we think about life in the Universe, we think about Earth-like conditions: a hospitable atmosphere devoid of poison, flowing water and the right temperatures and pressures for liquid on the surface, and just the right distance from the parent star to make it all happen. But perhaps life exists in abundance under very different conditions: in the atmospheres of stars and gaseous planets.

Image credit: NASA / Pioneer Venus Orbiter, 1979.

Image credit: NASA / Pioneer Venus Orbiter, 1979.

While our own star is far too hot for such a thing, Jupiter, Venus and even the atmospheres of brown dwarfs may be the perfect location for such life to exist. One proposed mission — NASA’s HAVOC, or High-Altitude Venus Operational Concept — might even hold the key to the first discovery of life beyond Earth.

Image credit: NASA Langley Research Center.

Image credit: NASA Langley Research Center.

Go read the whole, remarkable story from Jillian Scudder!