On Monday scientists said they have detected a gas called phosphine in the acidic clouds of Venus indicating that microbes may inhabit Earth’s neighbor, raising questions of potential life beyond Earth.
Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted the chemical signature of the noxious gas phosphine that, on Earth, is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy.
AP reported that several outside experts agreed this is tantalizing but stated that it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. According to said experts, it doesn’t satisfy the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standard established by the late Carl Sagan, who speculated about the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus in 1967.
Phosphine suggests the presence of life on Earth. It’s a flammable, foul, toxic gas produced by bacteria that doesn’t require oxygen—like those in swamps and smells of rotting fish.
Similar in size and structure to Earth, Venus has been called Earth’s twin. However, they’re more fraternal due to the radical differences between the two worlds. Venus has a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and it’s perpetually shrouded in thick, yellowish clouds of mostly sulfuric acid. Said clouds trap heat and cause a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus is the second planet from the sun an is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to our star. Venus’ crushing air pressure at its surface is more than 90 times more severe than Earth – similar to the pressure you’d feel a mile below the ocean surface on Earth.