Astronomers may find signs of life on Venus

Astronomers may find signs of life on Venus

Traces of a rare molecule known as phosphine were found in Venus’ hellish, acidic atmosphere, astronomers announced Monday. This provides a sweet clue to the possibility of life. Phosphine molecules found on Earth are primarily the result of the human industry or the activity of microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.

Researchers do not claim that life was found on a second planet from the sun. However, observations suggest the possibility of microbial activity in the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere, at least far from the planet’s inhabitable surfaces.

“We found a rare gas called phosphine in the atmosphere of the neighboring planet Venus,” said Jane Greaves, professor at Cardiff University in England and the lead author of a report published in the United States. Natural astronomy. “And what we’re excited about is that the phosphine gas on Earth is made by microbes living in an oxygen-free environment, so it’s possible to find some kind of living organism in Venus’ cloud.”

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Incorrect color image of Venus captured with an ultraviolet imaging device mounted on Japan’s Venus climate orbit (Akatsuiki).

JAXA


Nonetheless, the team said much more research was needed to support those claims.

“To make a very special claim that there may be life there, we really have to rule out everything. That’s why we claim that there is something really unknown, not that there is life. MIT researcher William Bains team member Said this.

“We are not claiming to have found life on Venus,” agreed fellow MIT scientist Sara Seager, who studies the exoplanet atmosphere.

“We are claiming the definitive detection of phosphine gas whose existence is a mystery,” she said. “Phosphine can be produced by some (non-biological) processes on Venus, but only in such a small amount is not enough to explain our observations. So we left this other interesting and enticing possibility. Perhaps some sort of thing. There will be life in the clouds of Venus.”

Mars has long been considered the best candidate for microbial accommodation in the distant past or to the present, as evidenced by the background levels of methane in the solar system beyond Earth. NASA, the European Space Agency, China, India, Russia, and the UAE are all Red planet exploration In any form.

NASA also Jupiter’s moons. Scientists believe that it is one of the largest and best-known satellites on Earth. EuropeBeneath the heated ice sheet from tidal stress and gravitational interactions with other satellites is a salty and habitable sea. Another frozen moon in the outer solar system, the “water world”, is also subject to study.

However, Venus is mostly a victim of the runaway greenhouse effect, where thick clouds of a carbon dioxide atmosphere trap sunlight and soar to nearly 900 degrees Celsius, creating a surface temperature that heats up to melt lead.

But in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, temperatures are much nicer. Despite the cloud’s acidic nature, scientists have speculated that extraterrestrial microbes could exist.

“Today’s surface conditions are really hostile and the temperature is enough to melt the lander,” Greaves said. “But much earlier in Venus’ history, the surface was much cooler and wetter, and it is thought that life may have originated.

“There is a long-standing theory that some of the smallest forms of life could have evolved upwards into high clouds. Conditions are certainly not good, extremely acidic and windy, but on the other hand, if we are talking about 50 to 60 km high. , The pressure is very similar to that on the Earth’s surface, and the temperature is very good up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So I assumed that this is alive. Habitat today.

Greaves’ team studied Venus’ atmospheric spectrum using the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in Hawaii and 45 radio telescope antennas in the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, and was surprised to see the obvious signs of phosphine. “It was a shock,” Greaves said.

The detection was compensated by the extra observation time on the ALMA array, “after all, we see that both stations have a faint absorption at the same wavelength as a phosphine gas, where the molecule is backlit by the warm clouds below,” said Greats in a statement. Said in

Only trace amounts of about 20 molecules per billion were observed. However, further research has shown that natural sources of phosphine, such as volcanoes, lightning, minerals flying into the atmosphere, and the action of sunlight, can actually produce only ten thousandths of the detected amount.

The research team may rule out many abiotic ways of generating the observed phosphine levels, but that doesn’t mean that living things are the only explanation. Venus’ atmosphere is 90% sulfuric acid, which “raises many questions, such as how any organism can survive,” said MIT researcher Cara Sousa Silva.

“On Earth, some microbes can process up to about 5% of the acid in their surroundings, but Venus’ clouds are almost entirely made up of mountains,” she said.

Greaves’ team is waiting for additional telescope time to determine the temperature of the cloud in which the phosphine is present, looking for signs of other gases related to biological activity and for further insight. Ultimately, future visits via spacecraft will be required to fully solve the problem.

“There may always be something we overlooked,” Seager said. “Ultimately, the only thing that can answer this question for us is that there is life and no life. In fact, going to Venus to measure the signs of life and life itself in more detail.”

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