Scientists spot potential sign of life in Venus atmosphere

  • Scientists spot potential sign of life in Venus atmosphere

Scientists spot potential sign of life in Venus atmosphere

The discovery of a rare chemical in the clouds of Venus could be a sign of life, an worldwide team of astronomers said in a study published Monday. On Earth, bacteria produce phosphine. The worldwide team, which includes researchers from Britain, the USA and Japan, published their findings in two papers - the science journal Nature on Monday, and Astrobiology journal on Saturday. The findings were published by Cardiff University professor Jane Greaves and her colleagues in a report in Nature Astronomy on Monday.

An global team of astronomers announced the discovery of a rare molecule - phosphine - in the clouds of Venus. In March 2019, scientists confirmed the discovery using a more powerful telescope in Chile. They found phosphine at levels ranging from five to 20 parts per billion - thousands of times more than what's in Earth's atmosphere.

Astronomers have speculated for decades that high, temperate clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes... They say detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial "aerial" life.

While the discovery is "not robust evidence for life" on the planet, there's now no abiotic (physical) explanation as to the presence of the gas, which means biological life can't be ruled out at this point.