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Daily Mail: Is this life on Venus? Russian scientist claims to have seen 'scorpion' in probe photographs

A Russian scientist claims to have discovered life on Venus after analysing photographs taken by a Soviet probe that landed on the planet's surface 30 years ago.

The pictures - taken by the probe Venus-13 in 1982 - have been re-examined by Leonid Ksanfomaliti of the Space Research Institute at Russia's Academy of Sciences.

Ksanfomaliti said the images showed a scorpion-shaped body, a disc and a 'black flap,' which apparently moved as the probe's camera records the scene.

They all 'emerge, fluctuate and disappear,' explained Ksanfomaliti, writing in the Russian journal Solar System Research magazine, according to reports.

'What if we forget about the current theories about the non-existence of life on Venus, let's boldly suggest that the objects' morphological features would allow us to say that they are living,' he added.

The Russian scientist is the author of several space publications including the book Mercury.

There are no records of life on Venus, which has a surface temperature of 464 degrees Celsius.

'Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus' thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway "greenhouse effect,' says Nasa.

Scientists have not ruled out the possibility of life having once existed on Venus - but most research has focused on whether there were oceans, and possibly life, in the distant past, before the 'greenhouse effect' created the scorching temperatures that exist on the surface today.

'Current theories suggest that Venus and the Earth may have started out alike. There might have been a lot of water on Venus and there might have been a lot of carbon dioxide on Earth,' Professor Andrew Ingersoll of Caltech said in a paper published in Astrobiology in 2004.

Since the Russian probe visited the planet, Nasa probes have created much more detailed pictures of the surface - in which no living beings appear.

Nasa's Magellan spacecraft, named after the sixteenth-century Portuguese explorer whose expedition first circumnavigated the Earth, was launched May 4, 1989, and arrived at Venus on August 10, 1990.

During the first eight-month mapping cycle around Venus, Magellan collected radar images of 84 percent of the planet's surface, with resolution 10 times better than that of the earlier Soviet Venera missions.

'During the extended mission, two further mapping cycles from May 15, 1991 to September 14, 1992 brought mapping coverage to 98% of the planet, with a resolution of approximately 100m,' says Nasa.