• Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

New Discovery of Phosphine on Venus: Could It Mean Life?

New Discovery of Phosphine on Venus: Could It Mean Life?

View larger. | Artist’s concept Phosphine Molecules in the atmosphere of Venus. On Earth, as far as scientists know, there are only 2 ways to produce phosphine: either artificially in labs or by living microbes. Now, a new study Jane Greaves Her team reaffirms the presence of phosphine in Venus deep in the atmosphere. It also indicates that there is a constant source of gas. Image via ESO/ M. Kornmesser/ L. Calçada/ NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ Royal Astronomical Society (CC BY 4.0).

Reported finding Phosphine In 2020, the atmosphere of Venus sparked a fierce debate. On Earth, phosphine is only produced by microbes or artificially in the lab. So, could that be evidence of life in the clouds of Venus? The debate continues to this day, with some astronomers saying they failed to rediscover it, while others found it. Now, the lead scientist on the original discovery, Jane Greaves At Cardiff University in Wales, UK, her team says it has again Confirmed again Existence of phosphine. This time, they found it deeper in the atmosphere, with additional evidence that there was a steady source of gas. The latest findings were presented by Greaves on July 6, 2023 National Astronomy Meeting 2023 at Cardiff University.

Jamie Carter Forbes Interesting news covered On July 6, 2023.

Astronomer Chris Lintott Tweeted about the latest update:

Science writer Corey S. Powell Also tweeted:

Extensive new data

The original detection data for 2020 came from an eight-hour observation with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.J.C.M.T) in Hawaii. The researchers made additional observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (Alma) in Chile. However, the most recent data from February 2022 and May 2023 are primarily from the first 50 counts of 200 hourly observations. Those observations extend deep into the atmosphere. Additional information from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sophia) plane. Unfortunately, SOFIA ended its mission in 2022 after NASA decommissioned it.

The data suggest that there is a steady source of gas. As Greaves Said Forbes:

Over the past few years, we now have five findings from three different sets of instruments and several methods of processing the data. Here we get a hint that there are some consistent sources, the point of heritage surveys, to show whether that is true or not.

Phosphine or no phosphine?

The controversy continues since 2020. Other astronomers reported finding no phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. But Greaves and his team confirmed the presence of phosphine. As Carter wrote Inn Forbes:

Scientists using SOPHIA in November 2021 found no traces of phosphine, but Greaves’ team reprocessed the data and detected phosphine in the planet’s upper clouds. ‘I made a few tweaks to the way they look at the data and you can definitely pull something out,’ Greaves said. ‘I didn’t do anything elaborate, just standard techniques.’

At the National Astronomical Meeting, Greaves commented. Pioneer Venus 1 Mission since 1978. EarthSky also reported on this earlier.

In March 2021, a study Rakesh Mogul of Cal Poly Pomona supported the original discovery of phosphine and went further. It suggests that “other biologically relevant chemicals” are present in Venus’ atmosphere Imbalance: Another aspect of life.

A planet covered with many colored clouds.
View larger. | Mysterious Venus, in ultraviolet. of Japan Akatsuki (Venus Climate Orbiter) spacecraft captured this image on December 23, 2016. JAXA/ ISAS/ DARTS/ Kevin M. Image via Gill/ Wikipedia (Credit 2.0 Generic/ CC BY 2.0).

Fast moving molecules

One of the most intriguing aspects of the new phosphine discoveries is that the phosphine has what Greaves and her colleagues call “wings.” Basically, molecules move faster through the atmosphere. As Greaves Explained:

We obtained these absorption lines in the atmosphere spanning a large range of wavelengths; In effect we see that the molecules are moving very fast. We are looking above the clouds or in the middle of the clouds, and this is the first time we have been able to do this.

Phosphine on Venus… Life?

What that source is, is still unknown. Venus has two main possibilities. One is volcanoes and the other is… the life.

Life? On Venus? Is the planet hot enough to melt lead due to atmospheric pressure? Yes, but it is on the surface of the planet. High in the atmosphere and cloud layers, it’s a different story. Temperatures with pressures similar to Earth are more comfortable. Various studies over the years have shown that microbial life could theoretically exist in Venus’s atmosphere, just like airborne bacteria on Earth. It would have to evolve and adapt to handle the sulfuric acid and little water in the clouds, but it’s still possible. Microorganisms like this exist on Earth and are called The antagonists.

What about volcanoes?

Volcanoes are reliable as a source Although some other studies have suggested them, for phosphine Not as much gas is produced has been reported. However, there is new evidence for active volcanoes on Venus, so they cannot be ruled out just yet.

Since the amount of phosphine doesn’t seem to vary much, Greaves thinks that makes a volcanic explanation less likely. IFL has become a science noticed:

For example, the amount of phosphine does not change that much between different observations. As a comparison, sulfur dioxide, believed to be associated with volcanism on Venus, can vary by more than 10 times from year to year, or even on shorter timescales.

Greaves said:

The phosphine seems to vary by about a double or even a half down. It’s not really variable, and I think it’s important in the context of interpretations.

Researchers are continuing to monitor Venus with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, with about 150 hours remaining. As Greaves told Forbes:

Venus is now approaching Earth. So, we’re starting tonight in Hawaii and tomorrow we’ll get the data. It’s very exciting.

The team will also observe other molecules, such as sulfur dioxide, to see if there is any correlation with the finite variations of phosphine.

Bottom line: Astrobiologist Jane Greaves and her team report that phosphine has been reconfirmed in the deep atmosphere of Venus. The gas seems to have a constant source.

Via Forbes

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