Signs Of Alien Life Detected On Venus
Signs of alien life have been detected on Venus after scientists have discovered rare molecules in clouds above the planet’s surface.
The molecules discovered in Venus’s clouds suggest colonies of living microbes have been living in an oxygen-free environment.
Scientists have long speculated that life could survive in Venus’s atmosphere as it has a much more moderate climate compared to the planet’s surface, which is thought to be over 400°C.
The new discovery comes from an international team of astronomers led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University. Professor Greaves and her team announced the discovery of phosphine gas in these high clouds, a molecule that is produced on Earth by microbes which live in similar oxygen-free environments.
The molecules, which consists of hydrogen and phosphorus atoms, were first discovered from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
Professor Greaves told Sky News:
This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really – taking advantage of the JCMT’s powerful technology. I thought we’d just be able to rule out extreme scenarios, like the clouds being stuffed full of organisms. When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’ spectrum, it was a shock!
The team managed to confirm the presence of phosphine, then ran several tests to determine where it had come from. While Greaves and her team have cautioned that it could have been created naturally, work by Dr William Bains at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on natural ways to produce phosphine found that there is ‘no way’ to produce the amount of phosphine discovered in Venus’s atmosphere.
The new discovery offers a potential explanation to the dark marble-esque streaks that can be seen on Venus’s surface. It’s thought that the streaks could be the recently discovered microbes that are living in comfortable 30°C temperatures in the clouds. However, the clouds they would be living in are highly acidic and made up on 90% sulphuric acid – an atmosphere difficult to survive in.
Professor Emma Bunce, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, is now calling for a new mission to Venus so researchers can investigate their new findings.
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.
I’m particularly delighted to see UK scientists leading such an important breakthrough – something that makes a strong case for a return space mission to Venus.
The microbial life found in Venus’s clouds is expected to be very different to that found on Earth.
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