Recently a rare molecule in the clouds of Venus is discovered by the scientists which suggests colonies of living microbes could be flourishing in the oxygen-free environment on the planet’s atmosphere.
While the surface of Venus is far too hot to sustain life, with a mean temperature of around 464C (867F), astronomers have theorized that life could survive where the conditions are much more moderate in the high atmosphere of the planet
The discovery of phosphine gas in the high clouds of the planet is announced by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, leader of the international team of astronomers. Phosphine is a molecule that is produced on Earth by microbes that live in similar oxygen-free environments. The phosphine molecules, which consist of hydrogen and phosphorus atoms, were first founded from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
As the presence of phosphine is confirmed, the international team of astronomers ran a number of calculations to see where it could have come from.
Microbial life on Venus is expected to be very different from that on Earth although it would need to survive in the hyper-acidic surrounding of the planet’s clouds which is made almost entirely from sulphuric acid. Bacteria produces phosphine gas after absorbing phosphate minerals and adding hydrogen to it, on Earth. According to some other scientists, phosphine is just a waste product of another process, but some believe it could have an alternative purpose.
The Japanese space agency JAXA’s discovery of the mysterious dark streaks on the surface of Venus, which bizarrely absorb ultraviolet light is cleared through this discovery as it provides a potential explanation of it. These dark streaks could be colonies of microbes, surviving in a pleasant 30C (86F) temperature of the high clouds, although the clouds themselves are incredibly acidic made of about 90% sulphuric acid.
The President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Professor Emma Bunce, congratulated the team on their work and called for a new mission to Venus to inquire into their findings.
She said – “A key question in science is whether life exists beyond Earth, and the discovery by Professor Jane Greaves and her team is a key step forward in that quest,” further Professor Emma added, “I’m particularly delighted to see UK scientists leading such an important breakthrough – something that makes a strong case for a return space mission to Venus”.