She decided to test the idea on Venus. An image of Venus, made with data recorded by Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft in 2016. Astronomers See a Signal in Its Clouds. This would make sense for Venus obviously because the atmosphere is just so densely composing carbon dioxide. Clara Sousa-Silva spent most of 2020 sitting on a huge secret – the apparent detection of phosphine, a potential sign of life, on Venus. The controversial part of this discovery was supposed to be the suggestion that life could exist in Venus’s clouds. Venus rotates so slowly that a night on Venus lasts 58 Earth days. Traces of life on Venus now seem dubious Paola Rosa-Aquino 11/2/2020. Science, especially science at the edge of current knowledge, is supposed to be an intellectual scuffle, and this one is still in motion. Militaries have employed it for chemical warfare, and it is used as a fumigant on farms. If phosphene is a sign of life on Venus, it’s entirely possible it is simply only one form of life. “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. Greaves and her team eventually reanalyzed the corrected data. But the coronavirus pandemic and Venus’s limited time above the horizon interfered with their ability to gather more evidence, leaving many questions unanswered. Hypothetical life cycle of the Venusian microorganisms. Most of the papers haven’t undergone peer review, the careful process by which ideas are tested and honed for publication in scientific journals. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. 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. They determined that this chemical signature belonged to phosphine. And given the amount of gas being produced, the population of these microbes would be ample. Venus was the first planet human beings ever explored with spacecraft. Less than one billion years ago, the climate dramatically changed due to a runaway greenhouse effect. They’ll have to wait until the spring and summer, when Venus moves into a more convenient spot, for the next round of observations. 578: Life on Venus?!? Like I said before, phosphene is produced on earth by organisms that are living in environments that are very poor in oxygen. ... which found a possible sign of life on Venus. 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. 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. While Venus is similar to Earth in size, … Planetary scientist Sara Seager: This is an astonishing and ‘out of the blue’ finding. 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 finding also follows a history of detections of gases on other worlds that can be byproducts of life. And that debate unfolded with plenty of spacecraft on and around Mars, with instruments capable of sifting the soil and sniffing the atmosphere. Recorded in secret before the … “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. The shortest answer is that astronomy is hard. Venus is one of the most beautiful objects in Earth’s sky. It's believed to have had oceans billions of years ago. Less than one billion years ago, the climate dramatically changed due to a runaway greenhouse effect. Unfortunately for them, Venus is oblivious to the kvetching unfolding a planet away and has since moved along. At least not yet. Trump refuses to accept Biden's win as transition proceeds. But scientists have yet to explain how Earth microbes make it. Sept. 19, 2020; It’s been a while — like, forever — since anyone claimed to have discovered life on Venus. 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. Life on Venus. But, just like an increasing number of planetary bodies, Venus is proving to be an exciting place of discovery.”. Or maybe life started elsewhere and somehow made its way to our solar system aboard a comet, or perhaps one of the spaceships that we sent out into space accidentally infected Venus with our microbes. So close, so similar and very mysterious, the planet is surprising scientists with a chemical signature spotted in its clouds. Dr. Sousa-Silva was surprised when Dr. Greaves said that she had detected phosphine. She did not expect to find it. Thursday, 17 September 2020 | Pioneer. The researchers offered a couple of potential explanations for the source. The phosphine’s still there, they say, although the signal is far fainter than they first reported. “It’s not true that if there’s no phosphine on Venus, there shouldn’t be life.”. In 1962, the Mariner 2 probe confirmed that the surface of Venus was too hot for Earth life–800°F. Aliens, though, are not the subject of the current debate. 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. September 19, 2020 at 5:03 PM EDT Venus, at least, is having a good 2020. 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. This time, they found, all signs pointed to phosphine, and a lot of it, ranging from 5 to 20 parts per billion. On Earth, the gas is produced by microorganisms. On such worlds, “as far as we can tell, only life can make phosphine,” Dr. Sousa-Silva said. A lethal technological move By Nadia Drake. I highly recommend reading these two articles by Phil Plait and ArsTechnica about what was found. 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. The hothouse planet, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, suddenly looks more intriguing as a potential abode of life. “The light is constantly breaking the phosphine down, so you have to continuously replenish it,” said William Bains, a biochemist at M.I.T. If phosphene is a sign of life on Venus, it’s entirely possible it is simply only one form of life. We know that alien theories are usually easily squashed. Posted on September 23, 2020 September 23, 2020 by Dr. Paul Edmon. But with powerful telescopes, they have detected a chemical — phosphine — in the thick Venus atmosphere. The NASA spacecraft Cassini detected it in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. “This is an astonishing and ‘out of the blue’ finding,” said Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an author of the papers (one published in Nature Astronomy and another submitted to the journal Astrobiology). 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 … Robotic space missions to Venus could also advance the search. 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.”. But living things could emit enough of the gas. High in the toxic atmosphere of the planet Venus, astronomers on Earth have discovered signs of what might be life. Why would determining this simple fact be complicated? Scientists are sparring over something more basic: the detection of the gas itself. Instead, for decades, scientists have sought signs of life elsewhere, usually peering outward to Mars and more recently at Europa, Enceladus and other icy moons of the giant planets. Bottom line: On September 14, 2020, Venus was added to the list of potentially habitable worlds in the solar system. The look for extraterrestrial life has actually mainly concentrated on Mars, however researchers at MIT, Cardiff University, as well as in other places It seems like these are huge disagreements, but they come down to teeny, tiny decisions and data-processing mechanisms. Venus, roughly the same size as Earth, is often called our sister planet. This would make sense for Venus obviously because the atmosphere is just so densely composing carbon dioxide. A guide to the spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit. Published 14 Sep 2020, 16:48 BST, Updated 5 Nov 2020, 04:57 GMT. In earlier days of the solar system, Earth was not so hospitable to the likes of us. After the news came out, other scientists around the world dug into the research, and a flurry of papers started appearing online. “Because we only have that one data point.”. and one of the co-authors of the papers. On Earth, this gas is only produced by living organisms, and there seems to … Other planetary scientists counter that a non-biological origin cannot be ruled out. 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. After much analysis, the scientists assert that something now alive is the only explanation for the chemical’s source. But at a closer glance, the less lovely it becomes. Other scientists have raised doubts about the research. 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. Ep. 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. The dense atmosphere of Venus exerts a pressure of more than 1,300 pounds per square inch on anything at the surface. Life on Venus? For now, the best views are from 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. If there is life on Venus, then a wet temperate world such as Earth will almost certainly give rise to an intelligent species. “All viewpoints are important, and we should treat our colleagues with respect.”. 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. Although those numbers might seem small, that’s thousands of times more than what is in Earth’s atmosphere. 6 talking about this. ONE of the biggest news stories of 2020 was the apparent sighting of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere. In all these scenarios, life on both planets will have a common bond. 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. 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. The momentous detection showed up in a simple plot of squiggly lines—or it didn’t, depending on whom you ask. 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. 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 group revisited telescope observations of Venus’s atmosphere from several years ago and determined that they showed no evidence of the phosphine that Greaves and her team said they’d found in the cloud tops. “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.”. 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. Phosphine is shaped like a pyramid with three atoms of hydrogen bonded to a single atom of phosphorus. 2020 in review: The hunt for life on Venus continues. Not finding life on Venus would be disappointing. “How cool to find it on Venus.”, She added: “Venus has been ignored by NASA for so long. On Earth, this gas signifies life. While Venus is similar to Earth in size, mass, and … Despite that though, did you see the tantalising story that did the rounds yesterday? But it’s good science at work. Venus, named after the Roman goddess of beauty, roasts at temperatures of hundreds of degrees and is cloaked by clouds that contain droplets of corrosive sulfuric acid. Stargazing with Pete - September 2020. 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. 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. No ruling body of the solar system, no Supreme Court of astronomy, will someday pass down the definitive determination about phosphine on Venus. “That moment plays in my mind a lot, because I took a few minutes to consider what was happening,” she said. Top panel: Cloud cover on Venus is permanent and continuous, with the middle and lower cloud layers at temperatures that are suitable for life. Let me answer the click-bait question above immediately by saying that life has not been found on Venus. Scientists have detected phosphine gas in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Venus is a very challenging environment for life of any kind. 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. September 18, 2020 Media Lario S.r.l. The work requires scientists to draw big conclusions about faraway places based on tiny signals imprinted on the light that reaches Earth. 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. 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. Venus, roughly the same size as Earth, is often called our sister planet. It’s been a while — like, forever — since anyone claimed to have discovered life on Venus. 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. Greaves’s team had relied on the erroneous data to confirm the presence of phosphine, and several of the response papers had used them too. Never miss an eclipse, a meteor shower, a rocket launch or any other astronomical and space event that's out of this world. 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. “The finding itself is astonishing,” said Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University who was not involved in the research. Yeah, yeah. Telescope observations don’t produce handy readouts that say Yes phosphine or No phosphine. Sept. 19, 2020. Only fresh observations can help turn a collection of maybes into a consensus, one way or another. He said that although he was “skeptical of it being life, I don’t have a better explanation for what it is.”. "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. “When looking for life elsewhere, it’s so hard to not be Earth-centric,” Dr. Sousa-Silva said. And much as Earth over time became a home for jellyfish, ferns, dinosaurs and Homo sapiens, Venus was transformed by something into a hell. The team spent a year recreating the Venusian environment in computer simulations to test different explanations for the phosphine’s source and abundance. 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. But in the months since the big announcement, the enthusiasm has dissipated. 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. 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. Decades later, Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University, directed a telescope at our next-door neighbor. I highly recommend reading these two articles by Phil Plait and ArsTechnica about what was found. 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. The 2020 WBZ Gingerbread ... “it’s probably a 10% chance that it’s life,” Yeah right. “What we’ve done is rule out all other sources of phosphine other than life,” Dr. Bains said. Many scientists think that Venus was once covered in water and possessed an atmosphere where life as we know it could have flourished. 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. Right now, only one spacecraft is in orbit around Venus. It will definitely fuel more research into the possibilities for life in Venus’s atmosphere. Let me answer the click-bait question above immediately by saying that life has not been found on Venus. Scientists don’t usually work with raw data, relying instead on telescope staff to provide them with carefully refined information. “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. At least not yet. 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? UFO hunters are convinced they have found evidence of life on Venus, sharing photographs of what they believe are alien-built structures. Gathered on little screens in the Zoom room—this is still 2020, after all—were scientists on opposing sides of the most intriguing mystery in astronomy to emerge this year: What’s going on inside the clouds of Venus? 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. If life does exist on Venus it would look very different to Earth. 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. It is also extremely poisonous. The detection of a gas in the planet’s atmosphere could turn scientists’ gaze to a planet long overlooked in the search for extraterrestrial life. Starguide: November 2020 — Life beyond Venus. If phosphine is lurking in the planet’s atmosphere, the source could, just maybe, be alien life. 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 an extremely 2020 plot twist, aliens might be real after all. 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. The scientists behind the discovery had to apply mathematical equations to extract those little signals from noisy data and then try to interpret them based on their current knowledge of another planet, which itself isn’t very robust. On Earth, Phosophine is a biological byproduct… If life did exist in the clouds of Venus it would be very different to anything on Earth, Dr Dempsey said. The original team has revised its findings. There is virtually no oxygen and only a small trace of water vapour. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. By Sebastian Kettley PUBLISHED: 15:29, Mon, Aug 31, 2020 Volcanic activity and lightning on Venus would not be sufficient to add more of this constantly disappearing phosphine, according to the researchers’ models. Future missions to the planet are still mere concepts. ... More clips from Life on Venus. While Venus is similar to Earth in size, mass, and rocky composition, its surface temperatures reach 900 °F, and its […] 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. There was life here then, even an entire biosphere that did not survive in the oxygen-rich environment that later developed. I can see why Bowie choose to sing about Mars instead, it’s easier to sing for one thing. If there is life on Venus, then a wet temperate world such as Earth will almost certainly give rise to an intelligent species. Different species of molecules will absorb radio waves coming through the clouds at different characteristic wavelengths. “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. Life on Venus? 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. But today, it's considered inhospitable to life. Often called Earth’s twin, Venus is roughly the same mass as Earth. 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 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. Venus just yet time for more deliberation instead on telescope staff to them. Really was phosphine on Venus are fading as astronomers downgrade their original claims beyond Earth s. Water vapour rotates so slowly that a Night on Venus, it ’ atmosphere! On Mars, with instruments capable of sifting the soil and sniffing the atmosphere just!, also known for being one of the least explored a fumigant on farms models tested challenged. Alien theories are usually easily squashed see the tantalising story that did not survive in the atmospheres Jupiter! 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