Venus has been known for a long time as one of the planets were life couldn’t be present due to the harsh environmental conditions. A team of researchers has observed traces of phosphine, a rare molecule that is associated with the presence of microbes who live in environments without oxygen.
The detection doesn’t prove that life may be present on the planet. However, it can be argued that microbial activity could take place in the upper layers of the atmosphere, despite the fact that it is quite acidic.
The presence of phosphine sparked the interest of the researchers since it tends to be associated with living organisms, which can be found. According to one of the lead researchers, the traces of phosphine infer that life might be present, but there is no way to know for sure.
Researchers also have to take into account the fact that the gas could be produced by a non-biological process. Since the amounts that were observed are quite low, the team cannot determine the source of the gas, for now, a fact which leaves all the opportunities open.
Looking for life
Many scientists consider Mars as a prime candidate for hosting life in the past as the levels of methane found on the platform suggest that microbial organisms may have been present at some point in the past or could be found even today in some areas. Several space agencies are hard at work on missions related to the Red Planet.
While Venus is close to Earth, a rampant greenhouse loop generates clouds filled with carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide captures sunlight, the temperatures on the surface can become hot enough to melt lead. The upper layers of the atmosphere are considerably more hospitable, and it is speculated that life could survive at high altitudes.
A paper was published in a scientific journal.