Venus: Potential Discovery Of Life?

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech -

Waking up on the West Coasst of the US in 2020, one might think that it is just another day with wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. But today is different, as a major announcement and discovery has been made in space! This discovery was made in the atmosphere of Venus by a Hawaiian telescope, which found phosphine. This is important because if there is phosphine in the atmosphere, it is seen as a “biosignature” implying life.

The reason that this is a bio signature is that small amounts of phosphine can only occur naturally from the break down of organic matter. Therefore, it would mean that there is some organic matter breaking down somewhere on Venus. It is important to note that the amount of phosphine found is too large to be produced any other way. Using sub mm telescopes, so in the microwave bands, phosphine was detected 50km or 30 miles above the surface. The amount of phosphine found was 20 parts per billion, but is 10,000X more powerful than anything natural.

It is worth noting that the Russian Vega prove did find Phosphorus in the lower clouds of Venus, but the Russians didn’t perform any testing. It was assumed that it would be phosphoric acid, not phosphine. Phosphine

If phosphine were to be found in the atmosphere, it would open up the possibility of more biosignatures to be found in the atmosphere in other planets as scientists could be aware of what to look for.

Phosphine does live in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, as it is created by pressure-driven chemistry.

For more information, check out this set of Tweets.

Let us know what you think of the discovery! Will this galvanize research into Biosignatures? Will it spur additional research into Venus and other planets in the solar system?

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