A paper about chemistry on Venus showed phosphine gas, a possible sign of life. NASA was not involved in the research but they trust the scientific peer-review process and look forward to the robust discussion that will follow its publication.
The Venus Research
An international team of researchers, led by Jane Greaves, announced the detection of phosphine gas lingering in layers of Venus’ atmosphere, where temperatures and pressures are relatively balmy.
Phosphine Gas on Earth
Phosphine is only made industrially on Earth or by microbes that flourish in oxygen-free environments. In other words, this means that the gas found on Venus could be a potential “biosignature” indicative of life.
What Does the Finding Mean?
If the presence of phosphine gas on Venus is confirmed, this will point out to either of 2 possibilities:
1. Unexpected geochemistry on a lifeless planet
2. The presence of aerial alien biology in Venus’ clement cloud decks.
The announcement elicited excitement around the world. Even NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine shared his thoughts on Twitter, calling the discovery “the most significant development yet in building the case for life off Earth.” He also suggested that Venus should be prioritized in planning for future interplanetary missions.
What’s Coming Next?
A newly completed Venus Flagship Mission is aiming for an all-in-one venture that would send an orbiter, lander, 2 small satellites, and a variable-altitude aerobot for scouting purposes. The current schedule for the mission is to set sail in June 2031 and place its 5 science platforms at Venus by 2034. However, reaching the surface will probably happen in 2035 if everything goes by schedule.
Robert Grimm, a program director in planetary science is patient enough and made a statement about the upcoming mission saying, “If they exist, the bugs have been there for at least hundreds of millions of years. They can wait for another decade.”