September 15, 2020
This recent news has caused a great stir in the scientific community and in all who accessed the topic, it is about the possible existence of life on Venus.
Scientists said Monday they detected in the acidic clouds of Venus a gas called phosphine that indicates that microbes may inhabit Earth’s inhospitable neighbor, a tantalizing sign of potential life beyond Earth.
Although the investigations did not discover real life forms, they indicated the existence of phosphine, a substance that on Earth is produced by bacteria that thrive in environments without oxygen.
The team of scientists first detected phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama radio telescope. Astronomer Jane Greaves of the University of Cardiff in Wales, lead author of the research stated: “I was very surprised, actually surprised.”
The existence of extraterrestrial life has long been one of the fundamental questions of science. Scientists have used probes and telescopes to search for “biosignatures,” indirect signs of life, on other planets and moons in our solar system and beyond.
Molecular astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva explained: “With what we currently know about Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine, fantastic as it may sound, is life. I must emphasize that life, as an explanation of our discovery, must be, as always, the last resort.
Adding: “This is important because, if it is phosphine and if it is life, it means that we are not alone. It also means that life itself must be very common, and there must be many other inhabited planets throughout our galaxy. “
Venus has not been the focus of the search for life in other parts of the solar system, due to the hostile environment, where the existence of life as we know it was impossible, due to the very high temperatures of its atmosphere.
Phosphine, a phosphorous atom with three hydrogen atoms attached to it, is highly toxic to people.
Phosphine was observed at 20 parts per billion in the atmosphere of Venus, a minimal concentration. Scientists examined possible non-biological sources such as volcanism, meteorites, lightning, and various types of chemical reactions, but none were present. Research continues to confirm the presence of life or find an alternative explanation.