Experts: Possible sign of microbial life discovered in the Venus atmosphere

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In a recent scientific discovery, scientists are saying they have detected Phosphine in the highly acidic atmosphere of the Venus which may be a sign of the presence of microbial life in the Venusian atmosphere. The discovery of phosphine was done by a team of international astronomers led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University using two telescopes, the James Clark Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii (USA) and ALMA Radio Telescope in Chile.


According to the experts, phosphine is a toxic gas that is produced under anaerobic conditions (lack of oxygen) by microbes. On earth its found in places like swamps and rice fields. The amount of phosphine seen in the Venusian atmosphere is tiny, only 20 molecules per billion. The scientists believe Venus’s atmosphere is highly acidic (90 percent Sulphuric Acid) which would quickly zap phosphine, for the gas to be still present means something is replenishing the supply.

The discovery offers a possible explanation of the mysterious dark sheets found on the surface of Venus by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). According to the agency, the dark sheets were absorbing ultra-violet (UV) rays, they could also be colonies of microbes surviving in the upper atmosphere where the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius (C). According to Molecular Astrophysicist and Co-author of the study, Clara Sousa-Silva from Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “With what we currently know of Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine as fantastical as it may sound is life”.

Venus is one of the most inhospitable planets in the solar system with a surface temperature of 471 degrees Celsius, however, 2 billion years ago it was a water planet just like earth today. As its surface got heated over the years, the water molecules escaped into the atmosphere. If life does exist in the Venus atmosphere, it might be the last remnant of a wrecked atmosphere. Professor Emma Bunce, president of the Royal Astronomical Society called for a new space mission to Venus to investigate the findings which have not been visited since 1985 (Vega 2).

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