Scientists have made a discovery that could detect possible signs of life in the atmosphere of the planet Venus.
NASA chief called it “the most important development” in the search for extraterrestrial life.
We have responded Five quick questions How excited we should be about this discovery and what will happen next.
What was discovered?
On Earth, phosphine is produced by microorganisms or industrial processes that thrive without oxygen.
“You will find swamps and decaying things and anaerobic life like microbes absorbed into the air and into our clouds,” explained Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the James Clark Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. Gas.
Phosphine is also found in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, but there it is produced by chemical processes that are not possible on Earth or Venus.
What does the invention mean?
It can mean Two products.
First, the microbes may live, not in Venus, but in the clouds above it. Although the surface of Venus is uninhabitable, the temperature of the clouds where this gas was discovered is about 30 degrees Celsius.
Or it could be created by geological or chemical processes that we do not see and understand on Earth.
“We do not know of any other process that could explain the phosphine detection we are looking at.”
Says Stephen Kane, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Riverside We must be careful about the outcome.
What will ‘life’ be like?
Very soon to say.
If there is life on Venus It will be very different to the earth.
Although microorganisms live in extreme places on earth – such as geothermal pools – they live in an environment with only 5 percent acid.
In comparison, Venus’ clouds are 90 percent acid, which is incredibly corrosive.
Professor Jane Graves, who chaired the international research team, said there was no easy way to test whether a lifestyle could sustain it.
So how excited should we be?
NASA boss Jim Friedenstein said the discovery was the most significant development in the search for extraterrestrial life.
But still The results are yet to be verified.
Proving the phosphine is in the atmosphere of Venus, it would be tricky to find out if it is really a sign of life.
If this is a sign of life, there must be other signs of other chemicals associated with life around it.
How do scientists find out if this is really life?
Professor Graves warns that with the results so far it is not really possible to say whether Venus is alive.
NASA has greened a plans Primary mission and two innovation missions To Venus in the next decade.
The primary task is to explore Venus using an orbiter, a telephone coated balloon, glider and lander.
“[The flagship mission] There will be all the bells and whistles, “said Dr. Kane.
In the meantime, Dr. Kane is planning a DAVINCI + mission Drop a probe by landing on Venus’ atmosphere and surface.
Both travelers are looking for phosphine and phosphorus acid, which means that gas is produced by non-biological processes.