Scientists said on Monday that Venus’s atmosphere contains traces of phosphine gas, which may be attributable to living organisms, and new insights into the state of our nearest planetary neighbors.
The situation on Venus is often described as hellish, with daytime temperatures high enough to melt lead and the atmosphere almost entirely containing carbon dioxide.
A team of experts used telescopes to observe the high-altitude clouds of Venus in the Atacama Desert in Hawaii and Chile, about 60 kilometers (45 miles) above the surface.
They detected traces of phosphine. Phosphine is a flammable gas that is usually produced by the decomposition of organic matter on earth.
The research team wrote in “Natural Astronomy” that the existence of phosphine does not prove the existence of life on Venus.
However, because the clouds rotating on its baking surface are highly acidic and will quickly destroy phosphine, research does show that something is recreating it.
The researchers performed several modeling calculations to explain the production of new phosphines.
They concluded that their research provided evidence for “abnormal and unexplainable chemistry on Venus.”
Lead author Jane Greaves of Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy told AFP that the presence of phosphine alone does not prove the life of the neighbors next to the earth.
She said: “I can’t say that even if a planet is rich in phosphorus, it may lack certain things that are important for life, certain other elements, or the conditions may be too hot and too dry.”
Graves added that this is the first discovery of phosphine on a rocky planet outside of Earth.
Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University and chief scientist of the Royal Australian Society, responded to this research. While trying to believe that the phosphine is produced by life forms, “we must rule out all other possible biological methods that do not produce it.”
He called the discovery “one of the most exciting signs of life outside of Earth I have ever seen.”
Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, conducted several Venus flybys and called Monday’s study “interesting.”
Venus rotates in the opposite direction to the Earth, and the duration of a day is 243 times longer, which is a topic of intense concern for astronomers.
It is so close to our home planet and so large in scale that some experts believe that it warns of the danger of uncontrolled climate change.
Previous research has found tantalizing clues that Venus has active volcanoes, including signs of recent lava flows.
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