NASA may prioritize Venus missions after recent discovery of possible life

Digital Illustration of Planet Venus

Seager noted that "the evidence is extremely strong that phosphine is associated with life in oxygen-free environments". The planet is shrouded by clouds containing caustic sulfuric acid.

Since an atmospheric presence of the chemical phosphine typically indicates the simultaneous presence of microbes, astronomers are venturing out on a limb regarding the possibility of there existing a form of life on Venus.

The finding comes from a study published Monday in Nature Astronomy. Walking down the memory lane, Russia, from 1961 onwards launched many Soviet programs of Venus over the course of decades.

"This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really - taking advantage of JCMT's powerful technology, and thinking about future instruments", Prof. "And so there is a chance that we have detected some kind of living organism in the clouds of Venus". Already a dazzling object to behold for the average star-gazer, it's about time Venus gets more attention.

This artistic illustration depicts the Venusian surface and atmosphere, as well as phosphine molecules. Each type of molecule present in Venus' atmosphere produces a distinctive pattern of dark absorption lines in this rainbow, like an identifying barcode.

The astronomers then ran calculations to see if the phosphine could come from natural processes on Venus.

The mission, who is known under the name of DAVINCI+, would offer to follow up information that could play a crucial role since it would offer the opportunity to survey the Venusian atmosphere and verify the balance of gases that can be found in a direct matter.

Dr. Paul Rimmer of Cambridge University believes microbes on Venus will likely be very different from their cousins on Earth.

Earth bacteria can absorb phosphate minerals, add hydrogen, and ultimately expel phosphine gas.

This process is curious, as it costs the bacteria energy rather than gives it to them - so the evolutionary goal for the process is unclear.


Some scientists believe phosphine is just a waste produce of another process, while some believe it could have an alternative objective - such as warding off rivals.

MIT Molecular Astrophysicist Clara Sousa-Silva told NBC News she was shocked at the discovery.

Fall color image of Venus synthesized using 283-nm and 365nm band images taken with Venus Ultraviolet Imager (UVI). When the team's models failed to find a non-biological explanation for the phosphine, she admits to having mixed feelings. "The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive". Even so, these microbes were thought to be resistant and hardy - particularly tolerant of the high sulphuric acid content in Venus' environment.

Loeb had also claimed that advanced aliens that might be living in the deep nooks of the universe are not paying a visit to the earth, as the humans are not particularly interesting for any other civilizations to visit. The Akatsuki spacecraft, launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA, is now mapping these dark streaks to understand more about this "unknown ultraviolet absorber".

White said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to confirm this hypothesis, "but if it holds up, it could mean life is hardy enough to show up wherever it's even vaguely possible". Additionally, they must have been present for the many millions of years scientists hypothesize it takes for life to evolve - the fourth ingredient is time.

Space scientists have found what could be a possible sign of life in the atmosphere of Venus.

"A key question in science is whether life exists beyond Earth, and the discovery by Professor Jane Greaves and her team is a key step forward in that quest", said Professor Bunce.

The worldwide team of astronomers say phosphine, a rare mixture of hydrogen and phosphorus, is now floating freely above the scorching hot surface of Venus.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), said a neighboring planet at an industrial fair in Moscow, the capital of Russia, shortly after United States and British scientists announced that they found evidence that Venus might have existed in the atmosphere in the past. "I am incredibly proud that this fascinating detection was led by some of the UK's leading scientists and engineers using state-of-the-art facilities built on our own soil".

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