NASA is taking into account the approval of two new planetary missions from a pool of four potential candidates, and two of them involve Venus. There are four proposals under review at this point, and one of those that target Venus could assert if life is present on the planet.
A team of international researchers has announced that a gas associated with the presence of microbial life has been observed in the upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere. The gas is known as phosphine, and bacteria that live in environments without oxygen tend to produce it.
Four proposals were selected by NASA earlier this year, and they are being reviewed by a NASA panel. Two of the missions involve the use of robotic probes, and one of them focuses on the use of a robotic probe that could explore the Venusian atmosphere.
The mission, who is known under the name of DAVINCI+, would offer to follow up information that could play a crucial role since it would offer the opportunity to survey the Venusian atmosphere and verify the balance of gases that can be found in a direct matter.
Making a choice
There are three other proposals: a second mission to Venus, which aims to gather more information about the geological past of the planet, a fly-by journey that would allow researchers to map one of Neptune’s moons, and a mission which seeks to uncover more details about Io, one of Jupiter’s moons.
Researchers haven’t involved Venus in missions that seek to discover life since it was thought that the environmental conditions that are present on the planet have made it sterile. As new information infers that this may not be the case, NASA and other space agencies may want to learn more about the planet in the future.
The results of the selection process will be announced in the future.