NASA mulls possible mission to Venus after recent discovery of possible life

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The new discovery is described in a paper in Nature Astronomy.

Greaves during the initial stages of her investigation used Hawaii's James Clerk Maxwell Telescope for the objective of catching a close-up glance at our planetary neighbour's atmosphere. They confirmed their observations with the ALMA radio telescope in Chile.

The phosphine found on Venus does not automatically equate to potential lifeforms. Phosphine is a poisonous gas. Green envisioned sending high-altitude balloons back up into Earth's upper atmosphere to study whether the live microorganisms spotted there are actually spending their whole life-cycle high in the sky, including reproducing.

A mission to Venus could help scientists determine whether or not the planet harbors life. He is with Imperial College London. Skeptics say the study is intriguing, but it will take a lot more research to make a compelling case for life on Venus. These processes are known as biosignatures.

Using what we know about Venus as a planet, how would possible alien life communicate? The three looked for phosphine, a molecule made up of three hydrogen atoms and a single phosphorous atom. "Now, astronomers will think of all the ways to justify phosphine without life, and I welcome that". It can be created by an industrial process, or it can come from a biological process in animals and microbes that is not well understood.

Using two telescopes, the scientists involved in the MIT/Cardiff study found a significant of one unique and stinky gas right in that habitable zone. Though the Venus entry probe will be "coming in super-hot" at about 24,600 miles per hour (39,600 km/h), "we do get a reasonable amount of time in that really interesting zone", he added.

The reason for the team's excitement about the finding, so says Canadian co-author and MIT professor of planetary science and physics Sara Seager, is that phosphine gas essentially does not belong in the planet's atmosphere.

However, the discovery does not necessitate the presence of life on Venus as telescopic information or data configuration could have affected the results.

As that mission is still in the developmental phase, NASA may ask its developers to plan a closer look at the atmospheric region found to contain phosphine, Green said.

Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes-floating free of the scorching surface, but still needing to tolerate very high acidity. Phosphine is considered a biosignature, meaning its presence indicates the presence of life, and researchers have scratched their heads trying to figure out what could be producing the gas other than some kind of living microbes. "There are suggestions they might, but it has not been proven".

Green said the discovery of the compound phosphine in Venus's atmosphere is "our first indication of potential life on Venus". The exciting sign of life stems from a detection of a perplexing gas in the planet's atmosphere.

"It would take something absolutely special for life to be suspended there", she said.

Justin Filberto, with the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, told The Associated Press that the levels of phosphine might be explained by volcanoes. Although its Electron rocket is much smaller than the ones used by SpaceX and other competitors, it could send a space probe to Venus. Both locations are capable of viewing Venus in much greater detail than the human eye can see, magnifying to a wavelength of about one millimeter.

The discovery offers a potential explanation for the mysterious dark streaks on the surface of Venus, detected by the Japanese space agency JAXA, which bizarrely absorb ultraviolet light. George Grow was the editor.

"We would see signatures of them in space, either because they send a signal that we detect or we see evidence of technological equipment that passes us by or we see the surface of a planet being modified in a way that implies an intelligent, technological civilization", said Loeb.

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