(The researchers later removed that wording and apologized.). “We know that extremophiles on Earth can exist in acidic environment, but that acidic environment might only be 5 per cent, and it’s still very much water based. But the planet eats metal, within minutes melting down and crushing spacecraft that have landed there. Before their imaginations run away, the researchers want to gather more telescope data and see their models tested and challenged. Few have focused on the rocky planet as a habitat for something living. By Nadia Drake. Right now, only one spacecraft is in orbit around Venus. Doubts about the existence of phosphine gas on Venus—a possible … But I’m not ready to set solar sail for Venus just yet. On Earth, this gas signifies life. ", Sousa-Silva and her colleagues expected the scrutiny, of course, and even welcomed it. September 19, 2020 at 5:03 PM EDT Venus, at least, is having a good 2020. The NASA spacecraft Cassini detected it in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. What makes the discovery of phosphine in Venus’ air so compelling is that the researchers have racked their brains trying to come up with ways to explain its presence short of invoking biology. We know that alien theories are usually easily squashed. Posted on Sep 22, 2020 in Our Solar System, Planetary Science, Planets, podcast, Solar System | 0 comments Trump refuses to accept Biden's win as transition proceeds. High in the toxic atmosphere of the planet Venus, astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life. The search for extraterrestrial life has largely focused on Mars, but scientists at MIT, Cardiff University, and elsewhere reported surprising findings in September of what may be signs of life in the clouds of Venus. Experts from the UK, however, found signs of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere — suggesting the planet must support unknown chemical processes, or even life. In that setting, Dr. Sousa-Silva said, life is not necessary to form phosphine. In September, news about the possibility of floating, cloud-based life on Venus caused a storm in the science world as tumultuous as the sulfur clouds that … And given the amount of gas being produced, the population of these microbes would be ample. Although those numbers might seem small, that’s thousands of times more than what is in Earth’s atmosphere. Greaves had come across research that suggested astronomers looking for extraterrestrial life should consider checking for phosphine on exoplanets, since any alien astronomers looking back at us could likely spot signs of the same gas on Earth. Chris e Maggie relatam a reação ao dramático anúncio da descoberta do gás fosfina nas nuvens de Vênus, um gás que pode ser um sinal de vida. “Even if there’s less phosphine than we originally stated on Venus, our interpretation that it’s very hard to produce with any known chemistry still stands,” Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT, told me. If the discovery is confirmed by additional telescope observations and future space missions, it could turn the gaze of scientists toward one of the brightest objects in the night sky. Traces of life on Venus now seem dubious Paola Rosa-Aquino 11/2/2020. But on smaller, rocky planets like Earth and Venus, the researchers say, there is not enough energy to produce copious amounts of phosphine in the same way. But living things could emit enough of the gas. But in the months since the big announcement, the enthusiasm has dissipated. Alien Life On Venus refers to the news in mid-September 2020 that scientists found phosphine gas linked to life in the atmosphere of Venus. “I got intrigued by the idea of looking for phosphine, because phosphorus might be a bit of a sort of go-no-go for life,” Dr. Greaves said. It could be a chemical process that no one had ever seen before, or—maybe, possibly, probably not, but it just can’t be ruled out—some form of Venusian life. The pro-phosphine side thinks the other is overly resistant to the possibility that a long-lived dream—uncovering a potential sign of life on another planet—might be real; the anti-phosphine side thinks the other is enamored by that same dream. Yes, indeed as of September 13th, 2020 there was compelling and rather robust evidence suggested by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, Cardiff University and elsewhere, that have observed what may be signs of life in the clouds of Venus, to be announced on September 14th, 2020. Phosphine is shaped like a pyramid with three atoms of hydrogen bonded to a single atom of phosphorus. Less than one billion years ago, the climate dramatically changed due to a runaway greenhouse effect. “And if one were to try to sum up who’s right, who’s wrong—right now, it would be a maddening exercise.”, Read: A hint of water in the atmosphere of a faraway planet. Possible sign of life on Venus stirs up heated debate “Something weird is happening” in the clouds of the planet next door—but some experts are raising doubts about the quality of the data. If the case becomes weaker, the search might end in a quieter way, with telescope facilities rejecting proposals for observations, says Ignas Snellen, an astronomer at Leiden University and one of the researchers who believes that the tantalizing signal is really sulfur dioxide. “Many scientists would not have guessed that Venus would be a significant part of this discussion. Those who have detected evidence of phosphine in Venus’s clouds say that although the case for it might be weaker, it’s not dead yet; those who don’t see evidence of it say that the phosphine researchers are seeing only what they want to see. Is there phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere, or isn’t there? A few days ago, at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, one of the most important conferences in science, a certain session began with a sharp reminder, akin to a school teacher’s instructions to play nice. The team needed a more powerful telescope, and the scientists next used the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, in Chile, in March 2019. “It will definitely fuel more research into the possibilities for life in Venus’s atmosphere.”, “We know that it is an extraordinary discovery,” said Clara Sousa-Silva, a molecular astrophysicist at Harvard University whose research has focused on phosphine, and another of the authors. But, just like an increasing number of planetary bodies, Venus is proving to be an exciting place of discovery.”. Ep. “What we find circumstantially also makes complete sense with what we know thermodynamically,” she said. It will definitely fuel more research into the possibilities for life in Venus’s atmosphere. "Even the publications that [say] no phosphine have their own different ways of saying no phosphine,” Clara Sousa-Silva, an astrochemist who studies phosphine at Harvard, and one of Greaves’s co-authors, told me recently. Such living things would have had to evolve to survive in a high-acid environment, perhaps with protective outer layers similar to microscopic organisms in Earth’s most extreme environments. It’s really a shame.”, David Grinspoon of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., who was not part of the work but has long promoted the possibility of life in Venus’s clouds, said, “That is pretty damn exciting!”, The work needs to be followed up, he said, “but this could be the first observation we’ve made which reveals an alien biosphere and, what do you know, it’s on the closest planet to home in the entire cosmos.”, Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, responded to the finding on Twitter, saying, “It’s time to prioritize Venus.”. Venus, roughly the same size as Earth, is often called our sister planet. Scientists have detected phosphine gas in the upper atmosphere of Venus. The possibility of life on Venus is a subject of interest in astrobiology due to its proximity and similarities to Earth.To date, no definitive proof has been found of past or present life on Venus.Theories have decreased significantly since the early 1960s, when spacecraft began studying the planet and it became clear that its environment is extreme compared to Earth's. Posted on December 19, 2020 by tonyheller The World Economic Forum has discovered life on Venus! By Shannon Stirone, Kenneth Chang and Dennis Overbye. But the finding will also encourage some planetary scientists to ask whether humanity has overlooked a planet that may have once been more Earthlike than any other world in our solar system. The shortest answer is that astronomy is hard. There was life here then, even an entire biosphere that did not survive in the oxygen-rich environment that later developed. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. But it’s good science at work. A lethal technological move The Pioneer Venus Multiprobe before NASA launched it in 1978. Some researchers question this hypothesis, and they suggest instead that the gas could result from unexplained atmospheric or geologic processes on a planet that remains mysterious. When Greaves and her colleagues examined their sets of squiggly lines, they saw a distinct dip, a sign of a molecule absorbing a particular wavelength of light. In 1962, the Mariner 2 probe confirmed that the surface of Venus was too hot for Earth life–800°F. And nobody knows whether the microbes, if real, are based on DNA like us, or something entirely different. At least not yet. In September, news about the possibility of floating, cloud-based life on Venus caused a storm in the science world as tumultuous as the sulfur clouds that … “All viewpoints are important, and we should treat our colleagues with respect.”. Chemists compare phosphine to a pyramid — one atom of phosphorus topping a base of three hydrogen atoms. That is more than 90 times the 14.7 pounds per square inch at sea level on Earth, or the equivalent to being 3,000 feet underwater in the ocean. While Venus is similar to Earth in size, … UFO hunters are convinced they have found evidence of life on Venus, sharing photographs of what they believe are alien-built structures. While dozens of missions were launched to Venus in the past, it is only being explored by one Japanese spacecraft now. In a paper published in August, Dr. Seager and her colleagues suggested that microbes borne aloft on air currents called gravity waves could live, metabolize and reproduce inside droplets of sulfuric acid and water. Venus now jumps to the top of the list of targets in our Solar System where astrobiologists are looking for microbial life. The search for extraterrestrial life has largely focused on Mars, but scientists at MIT, Cardiff University, and elsewhere reported surprising findings in September of what may be signs of life in the clouds of Venus. One of the chemicals was phosphine. The detection of phosphine gas in the clouds of Venus—a possible sign of life—might be due to a fluke in data processing, new analyses suggest. “We’re going to point our telescopes at a planet, and we’re going to detect a cool molecule that could be a biosignature—water, oxygen, methane, phosphine—and when we do, we’re going to argue like this again. Planetary scientist Sara Seager: This is an astonishing and ‘out of the blue’ finding. Many scientists think that Venus was once covered in water and possessed an atmosphere where life as we know it could have flourished. Life on Venus? They’ll have to wait until the spring and summer, when Venus moves into a more convenient spot, for the next round of observations. As to how these microbes got there, the best guess, she said, is that they originated on the surface when Venus had oceans as late as 700 million years ago, but they were forced into the skies when the planet dried up. Scientists don’t usually work with raw data, relying instead on telescope staff to provide them with carefully refined information. Top panel: Cloud cover on Venus is permanent and continuous, with the middle and lower cloud layers at temperatures that are suitable for life. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. Venus is a very challenging environment for life of any kind. “What we’re seeing is the volatile and messy process by which science plays out,” David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist at the Planetary Science Institute, told me. Never miss an eclipse, a meteor shower, a rocket launch or any other astronomical and space event that's out of this world. The look for extraterrestrial life has actually mainly concentrated on Mars, however researchers at MIT, Cardiff University, as well as in other places By Sebastian Kettley PUBLISHED: 15:29, Mon, Aug 31, 2020 The 2020 WBZ Gingerbread ... “it’s probably a 10% chance that it’s life,” Yeah right. On the TV show “Breaking Bad,” the main character, Walter White, makes it to kill two rivals. Robotic space missions to Venus could also advance the search. In an extremely 2020 plot twist, aliens might be real after all. I highly recommend reading these two articles by Phil Plait and ArsTechnica about what was found. If there is life on Venus, then a wet temperate world such as Earth will almost certainly give rise to an intelligent species. She has long studied the gas, on the theory that finding it being emitted from rocky planets that orbit distant stars could be proof that life exists elsewhere in the Milky Way. Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales, set out in June 2017 to test that hypothesis using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, looking for signs of various molecules on Venus. Recorded in secret before the … Other scientists have raised doubts about the research. The dense atmosphere of Venus exerts a pressure of more than 1,300 pounds per square inch on anything at the surface. Gathered on little screens in the Zoom room—this is still 2020, ... Grinspoon has written about the possibility of life on Venus since the 1990s, but was not involved in the latest research. But the coronavirus pandemic and Venus’s limited time above the horizon interfered with their ability to gather more evidence, leaving many questions unanswered. The science community is divided—enough that one rebuttal paper had the authors “invite” the researchers who originally identified the phosphine to consider retracting their study altogether. 6 talking about this. Less than one billion years ago, the climate dramatically changed due to a runaway greenhouse effect. Decades later, Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University, directed a telescope at our next-door neighbor. Starguide: November 2020 — Life beyond Venus. While Venus is similar to Earth in size, mass, and rocky composition, its surface temperatures reach 900 °F, and its […] But these gases, such as burps of methane or oxygen on Mars, can also be produced by chemical reactions that do not involve life at all. This is the discussion we’ll be having every time, and hopefully, every time a little better.”. The detection of phosphine in Venus' clouds is a big deal, and here's how we can find out if it really is life Sep 18, 2020 Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter Other planetary scientists counter that a non-biological origin cannot be ruled out. But scientists have yet to explain how Earth microbes make it. ... More clips from Life on Venus. So far, such signals have been intriguing, but they are not convincing proof of aliens. And there’s still enough of it to consider the possibility that it might be produced by some kind of life. Chris e Maggie relatam a reação ao dramático anúncio da descoberta do gás fosfina nas nuvens de Vênus, um gás que pode ser um sinal de vida. If there is life on Venus, then a wet temperate world such as Earth will almost certainly give rise to an intelligent species. Another group reached decades into the past and found a potential signal for phosphine, buried in data from a NASA mission that started studying Venus in 1978. Hot enough to melt metal and with clouds full of acid, any life that could survive in the atmosphere of Venus would have to be capable of enduring extremes. Telescope observations don’t produce handy readouts that say Yes phosphine or No phosphine. We know that alien theories are usually easily squashed. Something deadly might be wafting through the clouds shrouding Venus—a smelly, flammable gas called phosphine that annihilates life-forms reliant on oxygen for survival. “We’ve seen it associated with where microbes are at, but we have not seen a microbe do it, which is a subtle difference, but an important one.”. Several researchers replicated the team’s data analysis and came up empty, suggesting that the specific formula Greaves and her colleagues had used to make sense of their observations might have produced a fake signal. And even if no phosphine exists on Venus—even if Venus isn’t the place where we first detect life outside of Earth—some other molecule, someday, could galvanize the scientific community like this molecule did, and spark another debate that could bring us closer to answering some of our most existential questions. In the same era, astronomers Carl Sagan and Harold Morowitz suggested that, although Venusian ground was inhospitable to life, its atmosphere might not be. Scientists have designed and proposed new missions to the planet, but their journeys are years away. Not finding life on Venus would be disappointing. The possibility of life on Venus is a subject of interest in astrobiology due to its proximity and similarities to Earth.To date, no definitive proof has been found of past or present life on Venus.Theories have decreased significantly since the early 1960s, when spacecraft began studying the planet and it became clear that its environment is extreme compared to Earth's. “Strictly speaking, from a scientific point of view, you can never prove that there is no phosphine,” Snellen told me, but “at some point, you have to stop looking.”, An absence of phosphine wouldn’t mean that Venus must be uninhabited. “That moment plays in my mind a lot, because I took a few minutes to consider what was happening,” she said. If there really was phosphine on Venus, she believed there could be no other obvious explanation than anaerobic life. Why would determining this simple fact be complicated? In 1962, the Mariner 2 probe confirmed that the surface of Venus was too hot for Earth life–800°F. Venus rotates so slowly that a night on Venus lasts 58 Earth days. It seems like these are huge disagreements, but they come down to teeny, tiny decisions and data-processing mechanisms. For now, the best views are from Earth. Bottom line: On September 14, 2020, Venus was added to the list of potentially habitable worlds in the solar system. Posted on December 19, 2020 by tonyheller The World Economic Forum has discovered life on Venus! Whereas frigid Mars is currently ringed by orbiters and prowled by NASA rovers, Venus is being studied by only one probe, the lonely Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki. By Paul Voosen Nov. 17, 2020 , 2:50 PM. “What we’ve done is rule out all other sources of phosphine other than life,” Dr. Bains said. “Despite prior speculation (mostly by the same authors), this can hardly be taken as a biosignature,” Gerald Joyce, a biologist at the Salk Institute in California who has experimented with creating life in the lab, said in an email. and Harvard astronomers see a signal in its clouds The scientists say they've detected a chemical that could have only been created by living organisms. ... which found a possible sign of life on Venus. It is hardly a place that makes visiting or research easy, although that doesn’t mean people haven’t tried. A guide to the spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit. Like I said before, phosphene is produced on earth by organisms that are living in environments that are very poor in oxygen. To make matters more complicated, it turned out that there was a problem with the raw data from one of the two telescopes involved in the research, and they would need to be reprocessed. Sept. 19, 2020. The immense heat and pressures can jam the phosphorus and hydrogen atoms together to form the molecule. On Venus there is a sweet spot at 48 to 60 km (30 to 37 miles) above Venus' surface, in the clouds, where the temperature is not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life. Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds. Only fresh observations can help turn a collection of maybes into a consensus, one way or another. Planetary scientist Sara Seager: This is an astonishing and ‘out of the blue’ finding. In their own paper, he noted, the researchers wrote that “the detection of phosphine is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry.”, A similar note of caution was voiced by James Kasting, a geoscientist and expert on planetary habitability at Pennsylvania State University, who said, “The model atmospheric composition that they show is, at best, incomplete.”. 2020 in review: The hunt for life on Venus continues. Phosphine can’t survive for very long in Venus’s atmosphere, so if the gas were there, something would have to be replenishing the supply. If phosphine is lurking in the planet’s atmosphere, the source could, just maybe, be alien life. In earlier days of the solar system, Earth was not so hospitable to the likes of us. Let me answer the click-bait question above immediately by saying that life has not been found on Venus. Different species of molecules will absorb radio waves coming through the clouds at different characteristic wavelengths. M.I.T. Hypothetical life cycle of the Venusian microorganisms. “Nobody ever came out and said, ‘If there is life on Venus, then there should be phosphine,’” Grinspoon said. To a nonscientific observer, the question might seem straightforward enough. Space programs have tried dozens of robotic missions to Venus, many of them in the Soviet Union’s Venera series. At least not yet. But I’m not ready to set solar sail for Venus just yet. ONE of the biggest news stories of 2020 was the apparent sighting of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere. The Sky at Night gains exclusive access to the team of scientists behind the recent discovery of possible signs of life on Venus. “Remember, this is a scientific session, and we will have different viewpoints,” said Sushil Atreya, a climate and space sciences professor at the University of Michigan and one of the conference’s organizers. Of all those attempts, only two managed to directly capture images of the planet’s surface. The researchers offered a couple of potential explanations for the source. Suddenly, Venus was one of the most enticing targets in the search for life beyond Earth, and in those first moments, other scientists in the field were unusually excited about the research and its implications. It is also extremely poisonous. a planetary scientist and head of the Johnson Biosignatures Lab at Georgetown University, the oxygen-rich environment that later developed, Mars is currently ringed by orbiters and prowled by NASA rovers, declined to fund a number of Venus missions. It’s been a while — like, forever — since anyone claimed to have discovered life on Venus. “We disagree on how much signal there is in different places, and then we disagree on who is making that signal as strong as it is, and how. Life on Venus? On Earth, the gas is produced by microorganisms. However, the thick atmosphere forms a blanket around the planet and means that the day and night temperature are the same, around 460 degrees Celsius – hot enough to melt lead. There is one thing, however, that appears to be very good at producing it: anaerobic life, or microbial organisms that don’t require or use oxygen. Potential signs of life on Venus are fading as astronomers downgrade their original claims. The hothouse planet, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, suddenly looks more intriguing as a potential abode of life. The second-closest planet to the Sun, Venus is inhospitable — with a surface temperature around 867°F (464°C) and pressure 92 times that of on the Earth. Sept. 19, 2020; It’s been a while — like, forever — since anyone claimed to have discovered life on Venus. But with powerful telescopes, they have detected a chemical — phosphine — in the thick Venus atmosphere. “When looking for life elsewhere, it’s so hard to not be Earth-centric,” Dr. Sousa-Silva said. “I wasn’t really expecting that we’d detect anything,” Greaves told me in September. The team spent a year recreating the Venusian environment in computer simulations to test different explanations for the phosphine’s source and abundance. He said that although he was “skeptical of it being life, I don’t have a better explanation for what it is.”. Science, especially science at the edge of current knowledge, is supposed to be an intellectual scuffle, and this one is still in motion. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. Life on Venus is a shoegaze band from Moscow, Russia. And much as Earth over time became a home for jellyfish, ferns, dinosaurs and Homo sapiens, Venus was transformed by something into a hell. Today, the second planet from the sun has an atmosphere stifled by carbon dioxide gas, and surface temperatures that average more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. While few doubt whether this phosphine is there, what kind of life in the clouds of Venus would it take to actually make the gas? The announcement in September took … Posted on September 23, 2020 September 23, 2020 by Dr. Paul Edmon. “How cool to find it on Venus.”, She added: “Venus has been ignored by NASA for so long. They determined that this chemical signature belonged to phosphine. congratulates the team at the ALMA Telescope Array in Atacama, Chile, and the entire scientific team involved in the discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus, indicating the possibility of life on our neighboring planet, as was announced on September 13 in published scientific papers that were submitted to the International Journal of Astrobiology . and one of the co-authors of the papers. Dr. Sousa-Silva was surprised when Dr. Greaves said that she had detected phosphine. Perhaps the inhabitants of an early Venus, once as habitable and balmy as Earth, had escaped into the skies when the planet became unbearably sweltering. Life on Venus. Let me answer the click-bait question above immediately by saying that life has not been found on Venus. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. Methane might mean life on Mars, but it might not. Although the surface of Venus is like a blast furnace, a cloud layer just 31 miles below the top of its atmosphere may reach temperatures as low as 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and has a pressure similar to that at ground level on Earth. Starting in the 1960s, a series of Soviet missions revealed a furnace of a world, with a thick, cloudy atmosphere that keeps the surface so hot that lead would melt on it like ice on Earth. There’s proof of life in the unlikeliest of planets, also known for being one of the least explored. Astronomy is full of disagreements like this one, but these squiggles provide the basis for nearly everything we know about the planets, stars, and galaxies beyond our own. Grinspoon has written about the possibility of life on Venus since the 1990s, but was not involved in the latest research. I can see why Bowie choose to sing about Mars instead, it’s easier to sing for one thing. It can also be produced by geological processes. There is virtually no oxygen and only a small trace of water vapour. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Dr. Sousa-Silva, Dr. Greaves and their colleagues had planned to complete additional telescope observations earlier this year. But at a closer glance, the less lovely it becomes. If phosphene is a sign of life on Venus, it’s entirely possible it is simply only one form of life. But we don't see intelligent life scattered about the universe. Duration: 06:34 More clips from The Sky at Night. Volcanic activity and lightning on Venus would not be sufficient to add more of this constantly disappearing phosphine, according to the researchers’ models. After much analysis, the scientists assert that something now alive is the only explanation for the chemical’s source. Venus was the first planet human beings ever explored with spacecraft. The astronomers, who reported the finding on Monday in a pair of papers, have not collected specimens of Venusian microbes, nor have they snapped any pictures of them. And that debate unfolded with plenty of spacecraft on and around Mars, with instruments capable of sifting the soil and sniffing the atmosphere. “For the last two decades, we keep making new discoveries that collectively imply a significant increase of the likelihood to find life elsewhere,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA’s science directorate, who helps select missions to explore the solar system. “The light is constantly breaking the phosphine down, so you have to continuously replenish it,” said William Bains, a biochemist at M.I.T. India’s space agency has proposed a mission, in the coming years, as has a private rocket company, Rocket Lab. One team argued that the signal was coming not from phosphine but from sulfur dioxide, which is common in Venus’s clouds and produced by plain old chemical interactions. September 18, 2020 Media Lario S.r.l. Scientists are sparring over something more basic: the detection of the gas itself. 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