What you are about to read next might be one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of the year 2020!
Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System. Its atmosphere is hellish, consisting mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid, and negligible amount of water. Besides, Venus has large number of volcanoes some of which may still be active.
These conditions do not make Venus favorable for life and it is probably one of the last places where one would expect life to exist.
However, in a surprising discovery, Researchers from the University of Manchester, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cardiff University and several other universities & observatories have detected potential signs of alien life on Venus.
What did the researchers find?
‘Phosphine’ a stinky gas which is considered by many a sure-fire sign of extraterrestrial life on rocky planets like Venus.
The detection of phosphine was made by the Atacama (ALMA) array located in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell telescope located in Hawaii.
The researchers tried to rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial life by analyzing other sources that could possibly produce phosphine on Venus, such as sunlight, volcanoes, lightning, etc. However, it was concluded that abiotic mechanisms (i.e. ones that do not involve life) that might possibly produce phosphine on Venus cannot account for the large amount of phosphine that they have detected.
Besides, phosphine was detected in that region of Venus’ atmosphere where conditions are possibly habitable and very much Earth-like.
At an altitude of 50 km above the surface of Venus, the environment is the most Earth-like in the Solar System – a pressure of approximately 1 atm and temperatures in the 0 to 50 °C range. Coincidence? We hope not.
Currently, there are no known mechanisms by means of which phosphine could be produced naturally on Venus in detectable amounts except “life” (microbes).
If not life, then it might be some sort of physical or chemical process that we are not aware of. If the latter is true, then our understanding of rocky planets is severely lacking (which possibly might not be the case as Earth – ‘the planet we live on’ and Mars – ‘the planet with dozens of spacecrafts and rovers’ are both rocky planets and have been extensively studied).
Astronomers believe that Venus once hosted liquid water oceans on its surface for 2 to 3 billion years after its formation and may even have supported life during this period. Studies suggest Venus lost all of its water (and even life) due to a ‘runaway greenhouse effect’, which caused the planet’s atmosphere to become incredibly dense and hot.
Probably, the ancient Venusian life was never lost and evolved into aerial microbes that might still be thriving in the Venusian atmosphere.
The researchers are not claiming that they have found ‘Life’ on Venus but the chances are high!
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.