Scientists have recently discovered an extraordinary possibility that there may be life on Venus clouds. The whole theory came up after astronomers detected a strange type of gas on the planet’s surface. However, experts still do not have an explanation about the existence of the gas that gave rise to the possibility. What we know as of now is that it is phosphine gas, which is a combination of three atoms of hydrogen, and one of phosphorus. As a result, Phosphine becomes a complete molecule.
Scientists state that Phosphine has a strong association with life on Earth. Significantly, the gas has a connection with the microorganisms found in the guts of various animals. Apart from that, you can also find Phosphine in swamps with low oxygen levels in the environment.
The most exciting fact is that you can indeed create Phosphine artificially. However, the mystery here is that there are no animals, swamps, or factories on that planet. So, presently, this is the primary fact that is supporting the possibility of life on Venus. According to Professor Jane Greaves, along with her team of scientists from Cardiff University in the UK, the concept needs thorough study.
The initial research and its results
The Cardiff University team has already published a report in the Nature Astronomy journal. Here, they describe all of their observations regarding the discovery of Phosphine, 50km from the surface of Venus. However, scientists are still in shock because there is no precise theory to date that can support the idea. Moreover, it is a miracle to find an abiotic pathway to Phosphine, given the high quantity that the astronomers have found on Venus. Therefore, the possibility of life on Venus deserves consideration.
Professor Jane Greaves says that she has been searching for life in other parts of the Universe all her life. So, she is already thrilled by even the slightest possibility of the same. She adds that her team is looking for inputs and suggestions from people across the world. Jane believes that science works when we keep incorporating newer facts into an already existing theory. Therefore, anyone can access their research papers and contribute.
What has the team found out precisely?
The team led by Professor Greaves concludes that there is a possibility of life on Venus after the identification of Phosphine. The experiment of finding the gas was done by utilizing the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope from Hawaii. The confirmation was given from Chile, by using the Atacama Large Submillimeter/millimeter Array.
Phosphine has a specific line of absorption that the telescopes can detect from a distance of 1km. The astronomers and scientists report that gas detection took place around the mid-latitudes of Venus. The zone is at an altitude of 50-60 km from the surface of the planet. The gaseous concentration is only 10-20 parts in every billion atmospheric molecules. Although it is a minimal amount, in this context, it is quite a lot.
Why is the concept of life on Venus so interesting?
Venus is unimaginable when we are considering the possibility of life elsewhere in the entire Universe. If you compare Venus with the Earth, it is like a “hellhole.” 96% of the planet’s atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide, which is a primary greenhouse gas. Moreover, the surface temperature on Planet Venus is like that of a pizza oven, which is over 400C.
To date, every spacecraft that has gone to the surface of Venus to analyze situations has had a total life span of only a couple of minutes. The extreme heat breaks down every machine or spacecraft that reached the planet. However, now it is exciting to know that merely a 50km above the surface of Venus exists Phosphine. Therefore, there is a possibility that the temperature and conditions of that zone may support the sustenance of living beings.
What is the reason for being skeptical?
The Venus clouds that give rise to the possibility of living conditions on the planet are thick. The main component that makes these clouds are 75-95% of Sulphur acid. The same is catastrophic for every cellular organism that makes up for the Earth’s total living beings. Dr. William Bains, who works for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a learned biochemist.
For the last couple of months, he analyzes various combinations and compounds that supposedly exist on Venus. His primary focus is to find out the source of Phosphine on the planet. However, none of the investigations are giving strong enough results to support the gas’s presence on the surface of Venus. Moreover, the amount of gas that is found by the astronomers still has no justification theoretically.
Dr. Bains says that survival of the airborne microbes on Venus is only possible in two cases. There is an entirely different theory of biochemistry, or there is a unique armor around their bodies to restrict the absorption of the sulphuric acid. The material of the shell must be more robust than Teflon; otherwise, survival is not possible.
The reaction of research teams
The team is wholly intrigued and cautious because they are trying emphatically to find the source of Phosphine. However, there is still not a single ray of hope in this research. However, scientists are not giving up so soon. They are eager to find out any loopholes or chemical abiotic pathways that may lead to the origin of Phosphine.
Dr. Colin Wilson from Oxford University worked on the Venus Express Probe project under the European Space Agency between 2006-2014. He is presently a significant part of the development team that is working on the EnVision Project. Dr. Wilson believes that Professor Greaves’ observation has now brought an entirely new dimension to the Venus research.
According to Dr. Colin Wilson, the observations are fascinating and will undoubtedly lead to newer discoveries. Even if the presence of Phosphine on Planet Venus is a spectroscopic misinterpretation, it will give way to further researches. As a result, scientists will come closer to understanding the theory of creating artificial Phosphine. Presently, NASA is discussing the possibilities of sending devices to examine the atmosphere of Venus.