A mysterious trace of gas may be teasing the possibility of life on Venus.
- The scientists said they’ve been searching the galaxy for “biosignatures” that could show simple forms of life across the galaxy.
- Venus was not seen as a possibility, though, until now.
What’s going on?
Scientists recently published a report in the journal Nature Astronomy that they’ve discovered a unique gas on Venus. In the report, the scientists looked into the gas’ origins. And extraterrestrial life might be to blame.
If this signal is correct, there is a process on Venus we cannot explain that produces phosphine – and one of the hypotheses is that it’s life in the clouds of Venus. It’s far fetched, until it’s not. — Janusz Petkowski, an astrobiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked on the project.
This doesn’t mean aliens will come from Venus, though. The researchers said this meant that microorganisms created the gas on the planet, NBC News reports. And that’s about the extent of it.
Scientists have sought to understand how or what phosphine gas was created on Venus. The researchers looked into volcanoes, lightning and even meteorites. Nothing has truly explained it, though, according to NBC News.
- On Earth, microorganisms created the gas by decaying planets and animals.
- The researchers said Venus doesn’t have an atmosphere that could create the gas other than through microorganisms.
Of course, scientists don’t have any physical evidence from Venus. They’ve used telescopes to see the chemical, according to The New York Times.
- “We know that it is an extraordinary discovery,” said Clara Sousa-Silva, a molecular astrophysicist at Harvard University, according to The New York Times. “We may not know just how extraordinary without going back to Venus.”
Sarah Stewart Johnson, a planetary scientist and head of the Johnson Biosignatures Lab at Georgetown University, told The New York Times that Venus hasn’t received enough attention in the search for extraterrestrial life.
- “There’s been a lot of buzz about phosphine as a biosignature gas for exoplanets recently. How cool to find it on Venus.”
- “Venus has been ignored by NASA for so long. It’s really a shame.”