Phosphine and life on Venus: scientists got a new answer to the question of the habitability of the planet
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Phosphine is a substance that can serve as an indicator of the existence of biological processes. And the new data shows whether Venus has it or not.
Venus is a very inhospitable world, which is nevertheless considered very similar to Earth. True, on this rocky planet, the conditions are not at all suitable for the development of life, according to scientists. Nevertheless, 2 years ago, scientists announced that phosphine was found in the atmosphere of Venus. This substance in large quantities can indicate the presence of living organisms. Now scientists have a new answer to the question of whether there is life on Venus using data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), writes SciTechDaily.
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The SOFIA observatory is a conventional Boeing aircraft flying high in the atmosphere, inside which there is a variety of scientific equipment for observing space. This observatory ended its operations at the end of September 2022 and was a joint project between NASA and the German Air and Space Center (DLR).
It was with the help of a telescope placed on the plane that scientists carried out observations of Venus in search of phosphine in its atmosphere. In particular, the telescope was looking for signs of this substance at an altitude of 75 to 110 km above the surface of the planet.
Back in 2020, as Focus already wrote, the fact that phosphine exists in the atmosphere of Venus was first announced by scientists. Phosphine is a gas that can be found in the Earth's atmosphere. And the presence of phosphine can be a sign of the existence of life, because on our planet it is formed as a result of the decomposition of organic matter in swamps. Phofin has already been found on Jupiter and Saturn, but there this gas was definitely created by other processes.
“Phosphine is a relatively simple chemical compound. It's just a phosphorus atom with three hydrogen atoms. So it can form quite easily. But is it on Venus? To answer this question, we used the SOFIA telescope,” says Martin Kordiner from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
The results of the study showed that in fact there is no phosphine on Venus, although theoretically it could appear there as a result of volcanic activity, and not biological processes. But it is still not there, as some previous studies have shown.
According to Kordiner, even if we assume that there is still some amount of phosphine on Venus, then it will be a maximum of 0.8 parts of phosphine into a billion parts of everything else that is in the planet's atmosphere.
Focus has already written about another study that suggests that phosphine is still present on Venus, although its appearance is just and is associated with volcanic activity.
As Focus already wrote, scientists have found the answer to the question of why Venus became the “sinister” twin of the Earth.