Life on Venus

By Dspyt | Discovery And Exploration | 28 Apr 2022

In the solar system Venus and Mars are Earth’s planetary neighbors. 

Mars gained more attention among scientists over the past 6 decades: they have launched 6  operational spacecrafts in its orbit and two more on its surface. 

In contrast, Venus, which shines brighter, closer in space, similar in size and physical structure to  Earth, is Observed by only a single satellite. The surface of Venus is extremely hot which seems to  rule out any chance of life. 

Nevertheless, The interest in exploring Venus might improve due the discovery of a potential lifeforms through telescopes. 

These telescopes work with sub-millimetre- and millimetre-wave radiation, which lies in between  infrared light and radio waves. The laboratories detected a persistent presence of the molecule phosphine in the clouds of Venus which is a potential sign of life. Since something must be  producing it at the same rate as atmospheric chemistry gets rid of it. For example, On Earth it is  almost entirely present due to chemists and microbes.  

Experts are not convinced, in 2004 scientists using three Earth-based telescopes and a spacecraft orbiting Mars all thought they had detected the spectral signature of methane in the planet’s atmosphere. And on Earth most of the  methane is produced by microbes.  

Recently, In 2018 the European Space Agency started to look at trace gasses in Mars’s atmosphere and has seen no evidence of methane at anything like the level previously  claimed, which makes it hard to credit the earlier observations.  

What is more, even the laboratories that have discovered phosphine do not claim robust evidence  for life, only evidence for anomalous and unexplained chemistry. In fact, Other teams need to make  their own observations, ideally at other wavelengths. And a thorough search for ways of making  phosphine without biology under the conditions seen on and above Venus are needed to draw a  conclusion. 

If the phosphine is indeed present as described, there needs to be a strenuous effort to find, or rule  out, non-biological sources. The team behind the detection has done some of this; it argues  convincingly that the phosphine cannot come up from volcanoes, drift down from comets, or be  made in mid-air through photochemistry.  

The previous orbiters sent to Venus were incapable of detecting phosphine.

The next mission to the planet is planned by India: the orbiter will likely launch in 2023, which should be  enough time to put on a phosphine-optimized instrument.  

Finally, as a result of his work on Venus and phosphine one of the key scientists has secured a grant  to investigate the scientific case for life on Venus and the technical challenges of a potential  exploratory mission.

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