Something odd is stirring in the atmosphere of our neighboring planet and scientists are just as perplexed as we are.
Yesterday, a group of astronomers revealed that they detected Phosphine gas on the cloud decks of Venus, which poses the probability of alien life on the planet. “I immediately freaked out, of course. I presumed it was a mistake, but I very much wanted it to not be a mistake,” says Clara Sousa-Silva, a co-author of the study published on the Nature Astronomy journal.
Based on what scientists currently know about Venus, the said gas shouldn’t be there as it can only be produced by microorganisms on Earth. “Phosphine is made naturally by some species of anaerobic bacteria—organisms that live in the oxygen-starved environments of landfills, marshlands, and even animal guts,” explains the National Geographic.
That said, scientists are reminding us regular folks not to lose our heads over this as the tracing of Phosphine on Earth’s sister planet does not immediately equate to evidence of foreign life in space. “It’s tremendously exciting, and we have a sort of obligatory response of first questioning whether the result is real,” David Grinspoon of the Planetary Science Institute says.
Simply put, the phenomenon may be something that researchers have yet to fully understand. Either way, the debate is now open to two possibilities: that some form of life could be producing phosphine on the planet, or that it could be created by a peculiar chemistry present on Venus that scientists have not yet examined.
Just last month, NASA’s scientists reported on the existence of a secret ocean hidden deep beneath Ceres. The study then also posited that their finding could lead to the possibility of extraterrestrial life on the dwarf planet. Scientists from the so-called Dawn project have already submitted a formal proposal detailing a $1 billion mission that would land on Ceres for further probing.