We don’t mean to alarm you, but scientists have found a possible marker of life on Venus. I guess what we're saying is: get over it, Mars tragics. The future is Venusian.
In a study released just yesterday, a team of astronomers found phosphine (a rare, smelly gas) in the clouds of venus. That phosphine could point to the presence of extra-terrestrial ‘aerial’ life. To put it simply, we’re looking at a potential floating alien situation.
“When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’s spectrum, it was a shock!” Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University said according to Science Daily.
The Royal Astronomical Society also tweeted this excellent 60-second explainer video (with non-astronomers obviously in mind) and to be honest, we really appreciate it.
And although Venus is a similar size and mass to Earth, that’s pretty much where our similarities end. At 465 degrees celsius, it’s hot enough over there to melt lead (if that’s what you’re into). And while the high clouds can drop to a summery 30 degrees celsius, they’re extremely acidic.
That’s why the possibility of alien life over there is so surprising. “The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive. On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment – but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid,” says Clara Sousa-Silva of MIT in Massachusetts.
None of this means, though, that there is definitely life on Venus, and the researchers acknowledge that they’ve got more work to do.
"With our current knowledge of phosphine, and Venus, and geochemistry, we cannot explain the presence of phosphine in the clouds of Venus. That doesn’t mean it is life. It just means that some exotic process is producing phosphine, and our understanding of Venus needs work,” Ms Sousa-Silva said.
Kind of a buzzkill, but fair enough.
Word on the street is a spacecraft will probably have to be sent to Venus to know what the hell is going on for sure.
Main Image Credit: Johnson Wang, Unsplash