The temperature on the surface of Venus is exceptionally hot, and no life could survive there. After the moon, Venus is the brightest object in the night sky, gleaming like a tiny diamond in the darkness. And nobody knows whether the microbes, if real, are based on DNA like us, or something entirely different. But living things could emit enough of the gas. “That moment plays in my mind a lot, because I took a few minutes to consider what was happening,” she said.
A report released on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, says astronomers have found a potential signal of life high in the atmosphere of our nearest neighboring planet. They used theÂ James Clerk Maxwell TelescopeÂ (JCMT) in Hawaii to detect the phosphine, and were then awarded time to follow up their discovery with 45 telescopes of theÂ Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter ArrayÂ (ALMA) in Chile. When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venusâ spectrum, it was a shock.'. An image of Venus, made with data recorded by Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft in 2016.
GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. On Venus there is a sweet spot at 48 to 60 km (30 to 37 miles) above Venus' surface, in the clouds, where the temperature is not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life. Dr. Sousa-Silva, Dr. Greaves and their colleagues had planned to complete additional telescope observations earlier this year. On Earth, this gas is created by microbes that live in oxygen-free environments. and one of the co-authors of the papers. India’s space agency has proposed a mission, in the coming years, as has a private rocket company, Rocket Lab. Phosphine is shaped like a pyramid with three atoms of hydrogen bonded to a single atom of phosphorus. It is hardly a place that makes visiting or research easy, although that doesn’t mean people haven’t tried.
On Earth, this gas is created by microbes that live in oxygen-free environments. But the finding will also encourage some planetary scientists to ask whether humanity has overlooked a planet that may have once been more Earthlike than any other world in our solar system. “Because we only have that one data point.”. As astronomers plan for searches for life on planets outside our solar system, a major method is to look for chemical signatures that can only be made by biological processes, called biosignatures. 'As Venus heated up the oceans evaporated and the surface became so hot that any life would have been killed, but any life in the clouds would have survived.'. It contains droplets with tiny amounts of water but mostly sulfuric acid that is a billion times more acidic than what’s found on Earth. David Grinspoon, a Washington-based astrobiologist at the Planetary Science Institute who wrote a 1997 book suggesting Venus could harbor life, said the finding “almost seems too good to be true.”, “I’m excited, but I’m also cautious,” Grinspoon said. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Never miss an eclipse, a meteor shower, a rocket launch or any other astronomical and space event that's out of this world. Chemists compare phosphine to a pyramid — one atom of phosphorus topping a base of three hydrogen atoms. Related Articles
Sara says, 'We hope our work will motivate space mission that go to Venus and directly measure gasses in the atmosphere. Today, the second planet from the sun has an atmosphere stifled by carbon dioxide gas, and surface temperatures that average more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. In earlier days of the solar system, Earth was not so hospitable to the likes of us. The other way is as part of some kind of poorly understood function in animals and microbes. The astronomers hypothesize a scenario for how life could exist on the inhospitable planet where temperatures on the surface are around 800 degrees with no water. The U.S. space agency is considering two possible Venus missions. “When looking for life elsewhere, it’s so hard to not be Earth-centric,” Dr. Sousa-Silva said. You must be over the age of 13.
The colouration was based on images recorded by the Venera 13 and 14 spacecraft. Hot enough to melt metal and with clouds full of acid, any life that could survive in the atmosphere of Venus would have to be capable of enduring extremes. Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds. Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet. DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1174-4 Journal information: Nature Astronomy
“We found an encouraging sign that demands we follow up.”. High in the toxic atmosphere of the planet Venus, astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life. (The gas was produced for use as chemical warfare agent in World War I.) “There’s not a lot of understanding of where it’s coming from, how it forms, things like that,” said Matthew Pasek, a geoscientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “We’ve seen it associated with where microbes are at, but we have not seen a microbe do it, which is a subtle difference, but an important one.”. “It will definitely fuel more research into the possibilities for life in Venus’s atmosphere.”, “We know that it is an extraordinary discovery,” said Clara Sousa-Silva, a molecular astrophysicist at Harvard University whose research has focused on phosphine, and another of the authors.
After much analysis, the scientists assert that something now alive is the only explanation for the chemical’s source. 'However as with all scientific discoveries in astrobiology we will need to look much more closely at the different ways phosphine can be created without life, to be able to conclusively say that this discovery is life.
By Shannon Stirone, Kenneth Chang and Dennis Overbye. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”. Experts propose colon cancer screenings at 45, not 50, Bay Area dodges perfect storm of dangerous fire conditions — for now. Space programs have tried dozens of robotic missions to Venus, many of them in the Soviet Union’s Venera series.
But Clements said that explanation would make sense only if Venus were at least 200 times as volcanically active as Earth. Other planetary scientists counter that a non-biological origin cannot be ruled out. “For the last two decades, we keep making new discoveries that collectively imply a significant increase of the likelihood to find life elsewhere,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA’s science directorate, who helps select missions to explore the solar system. A popular and plausible theory among astrophysicists holds that a couple of billion years ago, Venus looked a lot like Earth did in its formative stages. “I’m not skeptical, I’m hesitant,” said Justin Filiberto, a planetary geochemist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston who specializes in Venus and Mars and isn’t part of the study team. The detection of a gas in the planet’s atmosphere could turn scientists’ gaze to a planet long overlooked in the search for extraterrestrial life. Asteroid samples escaping from over-filled NASA craft “I got intrigued by the idea of looking for phosphine, because phosphorus might be a bit of a sort of go-no-go for life,” Dr. Greaves said.
Different species of molecules will absorb radio waves coming through the clouds at different characteristic wavelengths. Militaries have employed it for chemical warfare, and it is used as a fumigant on farms. But, just like an increasing number of planetary bodies, Venus is proving to be an exciting place of discovery.”. This time, they found, all signs pointed to phosphine, and a lot of it, ranging from 5 to 20 parts per billion. Phosphine is found in “ooze at the bottom of ponds, the guts of some creatures like badgers and perhaps most unpleasantly associated with piles of penguin guano,” Clements said. Prof Greaves told the Royal Astronomical Society, 'This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really â taking advantage of JCMTâs powerful technology, and thinking about future instruments. Get email updates about our news, science, exhibitions, events, products, services and fundraising activities. Often called Earth’s twin, Venus is roughly the same mass as Earth. She has long studied the gas, on the theory that finding it being emitted from rocky planets that orbit distant stars could be proof that life exists elsewhere in the Milky Way. Scientists have detected phosphine on Venus. Bacteria live in the liquid water droplets, which are then rained back down on Earth. Instead, for decades, scientists have sought signs of life elsewhere, usually peering outward to Mars and more recently at Europa, Enceladus and other icy moons of the giant planets. The immense heat and pressures can jam the phosphorus and hydrogen atoms together to form the molecule. What’s so special about the harvest moon? In that setting, Dr. Sousa-Silva said, life is not necessary to form phosphine. When the droplets fall, the potential life probably dries out and could then get picked up in another drop and reanimate, they said. The phosphine could be coming from some kind of microbes, probably single-cell ones, inside those sulfuric acid droplets, living their entire lives in the 10-mile-deep clouds, Seager and Clements said. … Not a single process we looked at could produce phosphine in high enough quantities to explain our team’s findings.”. Scientists say they may have…, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Four more Bay Area counties progress to orange reopening tier, Life on Venus?
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