2020 has become a year of surprises, that is for sure. And not only our planet has offered us a large amount of news. But from asteroids coming too close to Earth, how did we end up with alien life on Venus? Your mind might lead you to little green men or bad Hollywood movies. However, I have to say that this discovery is much more than that.
It turns out that scientists have spotted phosphine, which is a rare and toxic gas, in the atmosphere of the second planet from the Sun. While researchers haven’t discovered life on Venus by direct observation, this could be a great clue that leads to this conclusion. But why?
Venus, just like Earth, is a terrestrial planet. People often call them “sister planets” because of their similarities. These include size, mass, and proximity to the Sun. Unlike Earth though, Venus has the hottest surface in the Solar System, with a mean temperature of 464 °C (867 °F). It also has a thick layer of toxic clouds, consisting of sulfuric acid. For these reasons, the conditions on the ground can’t sustain life. However, they are far more habitable upper in the clouds (about 35 miles up, to be more precise).
On Earth, phosphine could be either made through industrial processes or created by anaerobic organisms (bacteria and microbes, for example). This is why, in the past, encountering this molecule on rocky planets had led astronomers to believe that this is a great “biosignature” (or indication of life).
Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, together with an international team of researchers, detected these phosphine molecules as they used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
”This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really – taking advantage of the JCMT’s powerful technology,” mentioned Professor Greaves. ”I thought we’d just be able to rule out extreme scenarios, like the clouds being stuffed full of organisms. When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’ spectrum, it was a shock!”
However, scientists approach this theory with caution. There is no way to be sure that these findings lead to the possibility of life on Venus. Nevertheless, this discovery may finally encourage further research about a planet that has always been overlooked. After all, astronomers favoring Mars over Venus in their exploration for signs of life amused many people on social media.
People all over the internet took this recent finding as a way to make jokes. This year has been quite a tragic one, so there is no surprise. From the way the world has evolved these past 9 months, many of us don’t find the news about alien life on another planet as unbelievable as before.
Given how this year has gone so far, I don’t find this to be too far-fetched.
Royal Astronomical Society in 2020: “We’ve found possible evidence of microbial life on #Venus!”
What I’m expecting will now happen in December 2020: pic.twitter.com/naaHKUKCix
— Khalem Chapman (@AirheadJourno) September 14, 2020
— Ingenious Captain
(@CapitaineJan) September 14, 2020
If you want to find out more scientific facts about this discovery, check out this video: