In the beautiful and dark night sky, Venus stands out as the second brightest object, gleaming like a tiny diamond. Its radiance is not only due to its closeness to Earth but also because it reflects more light across its atmosphere than any other planet in our solar system. Is there life on Venus? Everything Unexplained investigates the possibility.
Possible Traces Of Life?
The Venusian atmosphere holds a strange phenomenon that has left scientists puzzled. Traces of a gas called phosphine have been detected, defying all expectations based on our current understanding of Venus. Scientists have settled on a possibility inspired by our own planet: the production of phosphine by microorganisms.
Clara Sousa-Silva, a molecular astrophysicist at MIT and one of the authors of a recent study, cautiously suggests that the most plausible explanation for the presence of phosphine is life. However, she adds that the detection of phosphine molecules in Venus’s atmosphere does not provide definitive proof of extraterrestrial life. It simply serves as evidence of an unexplained phenomenon, leaving open the possibility that the gas could be the result of a chemical process yet to be observed.
Venus’s Hostile Atmosphere
Known for its inhospitable conditions and scorching temperatures, Venus has gained notoriety as a hostile planet. However, recent discoveries have turned it into one of the most interesting. In addition, it is the closest destination in the universe for investigating the existence of life beyond Earth. The presence of phosphine on Venus raises the tantalizing prospect that life may be thriving there currently. Confirmation of this discovery, which would likely require a spacecraft mission, would mark a historic moment, revealing that our solar system harbors not just one, but two planets capable of sustaining life. The implications of such a finding would be profound, making us realize that we are not alone in the cosmic sense.
Despite its extreme conditions, Venus’s atmosphere holds clues to the potential existence of life. At higher altitudes, where temperatures are relatively cooler, telescopes have detected the signature of phosphine. However, the planet’s acidic atmosphere, consisting of sulfuric acid clouds, swiftly eradicates any phosphine present. For the gas to persist, there must be something constantly replenishing its supply.
The Curious Gas
Phosphine, a gas of interest in the search for life, has been detected on only three other worlds within our solar system. On Earth, it is found in swamps, marshlands, and the intestines of certain animals. Jupiter and Saturn generate phosphine within their violent storms under extreme conditions yet to be observed elsewhere. Sousa-Silva and her team conducted computer simulations involving lightning, meteorite impacts, and the scraping of crust against crust. Although these experiments resulted in minute quantities of phosphine, undetectable from Earth. Hence, they led the researchers to consider the possibility of life as an explanation.
The findings have pushed Sousa-Silva and her team to seriously entertain the notion of life as an explanation for phosphine on Venus. Mysteriously, a hypothesis usually moved to the bottom of the list due to its unlikelihood. Meanwhile, Sousa-Silvah has doubt and encourages the scientific community to challenge their conclusions. She recognizes that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and she invites experts to prove her wrong.
The Smell of Venusian Life
Pondering the existence of life forms on Venus, Sousa-Silva envisions what might arise in an environment full by the fear of sulfuric acid. However, she notes that if Venusian life forms were similar to earth, their existence would be challenging as they would need to extract scarce water vapor from the atmosphere to survive.
The thought of Venusian life brings up ideas and the distinct possibility of unpleasant odors. Sousa-Silva suggests that we may find any Venusian beings disgusting, just as they might find us awful. They could mirror our perception of toxic substances as us having a terrible stink.
Life on Venus instead of Mars?
The discovery of phosphine on Venus challenges the existing knowledge about this mysterious bright planet. It helps the argument for launching new missions to Venus. If scientists were to uncover life on Venus, it would reshape our understanding of aliens. For years, Mars and icy moons like Europa and Enceladus have taken center stage as possible homes for alien life. However, it may be time to open our minds and imagine life within the skies of a neighboring world.
In the pursuit of space exploration, scientists have focused on the possibility of finding life on Mars. However, what if, they were to find life on Venus instead? Such a groundbreaking discovery would revolutionize our perspective and prompt a fundamental reevaluation of our expectations regarding extraterrestrial life.