Scientists Detect Possible Signs of Life in Venus' Atmosphere


AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Scientists say they have possibly detected the signature of life on Venus. They say they have detected the gas phosphine in the clouds of the planet, a compound that on Earth is produced by bacteria in oxygen-deprived environments.

The scientists stress that no actual life was detected, but the presence of phosphine could possibly indicate that life could exist on Earth's sister planet.

“I was very surprised - stunned, in fact,” said Jane Greaves, an astronomer of Cardiff University in Wales, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy. The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and it was also confirmed using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope located in Chile.

“With what we currently know of Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine, as fantastical as it might sound, is life,” said MIT molecular astrophysicist and study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva.

“I should emphasize that life, as an explanation for our discovery, should be, as always, the last resort. This is important because, if it is phosphine, and if it is life, it means that we are not alone. It also means that life itself must be very common, and there must be many other inhabited planets throughout our galaxy," she adds.