Astronomers Announce Possible Sign of Life on Venus

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 15, 2020

Astronomers have detected potential signs of life on Venus in the form of a gas called phosgene which is produced by bacteria in low-oxygen environments. They studied the origin of phosphine, but no inorganic processes, including supply from volcanos and atmospheric photochemistry can explain the detected amount of phosphine.

An worldwide team of astronomers announced the discovery of a rare molecule - phosphine - in the clouds of Venus. In March 2019, scientists confirmed the discovery using a more powerful telescope in Chile.

The team estimates that phosphine exists in Venus' clouds at a small concentration, only about 20 molecules in every billion.

Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes - floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. This detection could point to extra-terrestrial "aerial" life in the Venusian atmosphere. "This is an astonishing and "out of the blue" finding", said Sara Seager, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an author of the papers. She said finding it on Venus is exciting and extraordinary. "The research continues to either confirm the presence of life or find an alternative explanation".

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