Life on Venus is still a long shot. But there is reason to take the idea seriously. On 14 September, a team of scientists made a bang announcement in the magazine Nature astronomy: Using telescopes, they detected a poisonous gas, a poisonous gas, believed to be a possible sign of alien microbial life, in the upper part of the planet’s dense atmosphere.
This finding was a milestone in the long hunt for life elsewhere in the solar system, focusing mostly on Mars and some moons and the orbiting of Jupiter and Saturn.
Meanwhile, Venus, hot and poisonous, was considered too inhuman for long to survive anything. But now, digging through NASA data, Rakesh Mogul, a biochemist at Cal Poly Pomona in California, and colleagues have found an indication of phosphine raised by Pioneer 13 – an investigation that reached Venus in December 1978.
“when [Nature Astronomy paper] “I immediately thought of the massive spectra of inheritance,” Mogul told Live Science.
Mugul and his co-authors were largely familiar with the mission figures, he said. “So, for us, it was a great next step to give the data another look. In this way, after consulting with my co-authors, we identified the original scientific articles, and immediately started looking for phosphorus compounds. Did it. ”
The search, which was uploaded to the Archive database on September 22 and has not yet been peer reviewed, does not tell researchers beyond what was reported Nature astronomy – Although this makes the presence of phosphine (composed of phosphorus atoms and three hydrogens) even more certain, he said.
The 1978 data comes from the Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer (LNMS), one of several devices that landed in Venus’s atmosphere as part of the Pioneer 13 mission.
Pioneer 13 dropped a large probe (LNMS) into Venus’ clouds; Suspended with a parachute, the probe collected the data and sent it back to Earth as it advanced towards the robot’s death. (Three small probes were also dropped from Pioneer 13 without a parachute.)
LNMS sampled the atmosphere and ran those samples through mass spectrometry, a standard laboratory technique used to identify unknown chemicals. When scientists first described the results of LNMS in the 1970s, they did not discuss compound compounds such as phosphorus, which were focused on other chemicals.
When Mogul’s team re-examined LNMS data from the lower and middle clouds of Venus (a potentially habitable zone on the planet), they found clues that look a great deal like phosphine, the researchers wrote. Scientists also found definite evidence for the phosphorus atoms in the atmosphere, which likely came from a heavy gas such as phosphine.
LNMS was not created to hunt compounds such as phosphine, and has a hard time separating gas from other molecules that have similar masses. But the Pioneer 13 sample had evidence of some molecule present in the gas having the same mass as phosphine – which corresponds to the levels described in the volume Nature astronomy Paper.
“I believe the evidence for this [trace chemicals that could be signatures of life] Magul said that there was a leeway in heritage figures, as it was thought that they could not exist in the environment.
“I think many people are now re-viewing the notion of Venus as a completely oxidized environment.” (“Fully oxidized environments” would not include phosphine or most other chemicals seen as signs of life.)
Mogul and his colleagues also found signs of other chemicals that should not be naturally occurring in Venus’ clouds – substances such as chlorine, oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.
“We believe that this is not yet an indication of discovered chemistry,” he wrote, “and / or chemistry is conducive to life.”
The need, he wrote, is further, the constant search for Venus.
“We need a more sustained approach to exploration, like Mars,” Mogul said.
He said NASA and European, Indian and Russian space agencies have plans for a Venus probe that could be helpful.
“However, when considering the past, present and future habit of Venus, we will need long-term chemical and geology studies to understand the sources of any possible chemical. [anomalies] In the clouds, “he said.” This can occur from orbital probes, balloon-suspended probes in clouds and / or heat-stabilized lander probes. ”
The phrase “heat-stable” is important, given the planet’s habit of killing any robot that lands on its hot surface.
This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.