In other words, if the observation of phosphine on Venus is right, something must be continually replenishing the molecule in the planet’s atmosphere. The news leaked from the British Royal Astronomical Society. “When I first started talking about it, there was a lot of resistance, mostly because it’s such a harshly acidic environment,” says Grinspoon, who has pushed the idea of cloud-borne life on Venus since the mid-1990s. In the outer solar system, phosphine is made deep in the interiors of Jupiter and Saturn. But other astronomers are skeptical of the team’s data processing. In September, you may recall, ... Phosphine on a small rocky planet, the story goes, is a strong reason to suspect the existence of biology there. “It’s very temperamental and it can produce features as easily as it can remove them. In September, it was announced that in the journal Nature that phosphine had been discovered in the atmosphere of Venus, sparking a debate about the possibility of life on the planet. Is there life on Venus? Sousa-Silva agrees that the team needs to confirm the phosphine detection by finding additional fingerprints at other wavelengths. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/09/possible-sign-of-life-found-on-venus-phosphine-gas.html, made naturally by some species of anaerobic bacteria, finding the chemical on other terrestrial planets could indicate the presence of alien metabolisms. In principle, this type of analysis allows astronomers to predict which parts of the observations are noise and which are real signals. And it’s another Earth. Nature Astronomy published in its report that 20 parts-per-million of phosphine was detected in Venus’s temperate clouds, and the source requires further research. That’s why some astronomers believe the compound isn’t there. Dark higher-altitude clouds obscure the brighter mid-altitude clouds in this image of Venus taken by an infrared camera on board Japan's Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter. It’s just a matter of going,” Gilmore says. I presumed it was a mistake, but I very much wanted it to not be a mistake,” says study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who initially identified phosphine as a potential biosignature. But on rocky planets, where conditions are significantly less extreme, there’s no known way to make phosphine in the absence of life—it’s just too energetically demanding. But everything we’ve learned about life on Earth suggests that it will move into every available nook and cranny. It’s extremely hard to make, and the chemistry in the clouds should destroy the molecule before it can accumulate to the observed amounts. The observations also suggest that any phosphine would need to be at altitudes above the planet’s clouds, which astronomers think would be unlikely because the gas would quickly break down. Any life there now is “much more likely to be a relic of a more dominating early biosphere,” says Penelope Boston, a NASA astrobiologist who specializes in studying microbes in weird places on Earth. This time, scientists could narrow down the molecule’s signal to equatorial latitudes and an altitude between 32 and 37 miles, where temperatures and pressures aren’t too harsh for life as we know it. Astronomers recently found a tantalizing hint that life could be wafting through the clouds shrouding Venus. Humans make it too, in meth labs and as part of the semiconductor industry.). “We have the technology right now to go into the atmosphere of Venus. 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