Image: ESO / M. KORNMESSER / L. CALCADA AND NASA / JPL / CALTECH
Something is brewing in the thick atmosphere of Venus, and it just might be alien life! Scientists from MIT and the University of Manchester using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, detected a high concentration of molecular Phosphine in the clouds of our hot sister planet. Phosphine, a rather nasty gas composed of phosphorus hydride, is used on Earth as an insecticide to kill all sorts of vermin, but ironically, the signature of this toxic compound on other planets is a good indicator of the presence of life.
Venus, with temperatures soaring above 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 degrees Celsius), and a surface pressure ninety times that of Earth, is an odd candidate to house any life form. But the recent discovery points to the contrary. The huge quantities of Phosphine in the upper atmosphere, scientists say, cannot be justified by any non-living chemical process. According to astrobiologists, the most likely explanation is that some sort of living, organic-induced chemistry is at work.
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