Scientists said on Monday they have detected in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus a gas called phosphine that indicates microbes may inhabit Earth’s inhospitable neighbor, a tantalizing sign of potential life beyond Earth.
The researchers did not discover actual life forms, but noted that on Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments.
The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Array radio telescope in Chile.
Scientists say they’ve detected phosphine in the clouds of Venus — a toxic gas that, on Earth, is produced by microbial life.
The finding raises the astonishing possibility that Venus might have some kind of life flourishing in its atmosphere. https://t.co/FE1UsZlcXL
— NPR (@NPR) September 14, 2020
We have detected a gas called “phosphine” in the atmosphere of Venus, says @jgreaves6. This could point to the presence of life in the clouds of Venus. Their study is published in the journal Nature Astronomy and will be free to access today. #VenusNews
— Royal Astronomical Society (@RoyalAstroSoc) September 14, 2020
Study co-author Sara Seager, an MIT planetary scientist, said researchers “exhaustively went through every possibility and ruled all of them out: volcanoes, lightning strikes, small meteorites falling into the atmosphere.” https://t.co/Uj8BBYQUnd
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 14, 2020