NASA mulls possible mission to Venus after recent discovery of possible life

Katie Ramirez
September 18, 2020

The discovery of a kind of gas commonly associated with alien life, phosphine, was detected on Venus.

Brittstein quoted New research A rare molecule in the clouds of Venus, from the team of global astronomers who revealed the discovery of phosphine.

The researchers are not claiming life has been detected on the second planet from the sun. However, these new findings suggest the possibility of microbial activity in Venus' upper atmosphere.

Green said the discovery of the compound phosphine in Venus's atmosphere is "our first indication of potential life on Venus".

The scientists noted that, on Earth, the gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that life could exist in Venus's high clouds.

Some researchers say the study, while interesting, isn't yet compelling proof of life.

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The mission, who is known under the name of DAVINCI+, would offer to follow up information that could play a crucial role since it would offer the opportunity to survey the Venusian atmosphere and verify the balance of gases that can be found in a direct matter.

Seager said they could likely put an infrared spectrometer or "some kind of gas analyzer" on board to confirm the presence of phosphine and measure other gases.

The researchers tried modeling the complex atmospheric chemistry of Venus to see if they could explain the levels of phosphine they detected. "The other two missions being considered have proposed missions to Venus". For more planetary science, read about a recent report that claims the moon is rusting and then check out this story about 139 minor planets at the edge of our solar system. Other frozen moons in the outer solar system, possible "water worlds", are also candidates for study.

For more on the possibility of life on Venus, visit CBS News. Hostile surface conditions make it so probes can last only a few hours before giving in to the pressure and temperatures. "I presumed it was a mistake, but I very much wanted it to not be a mistake". "So it's been hypothesized that this is a living habitat today".

"The worldwide scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile", the report said. "It was a shock", Greaves said.

The detection was rewarded with additional observing time on the ALMA array and "in the end, we found that both observatories had seen the same thing, faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below", Greaves said in a statement. It is known that this odd molecule can also be generated by volcanic eruptions, lightning and solar radiation, but not in such large amounts as those detected. If they are there and producing phosphine, the study finds these organisms have to contend with a much harsher environment than those here. Accurately predicting the barcode of phosphine across all relevant frequencies took the whole PhD of astrochemist Clara Sousa-Silva in the ExoMol group at University College London in 2015. "On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about five percent of acid in their environment-but the clouds of Venus are nearly entirely made of acid". Additionally, they must have been present for the many millions of years scientists hypothesize it takes for life to evolve - the fourth ingredient is time. "If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced", said Hawking. "Ultimately, the only thing that will answer this question for us - is there life, is there not life - is actually going to Venus and making more detailed measurements for signs of life and maybe life itself".

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