Possible Marker of Life Spotted on Venus.
An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus.
The international team, which includes researchers from the UK, US and Japan, estimates that phosphine exists in Venus’s clouds at a small concentration, only about twenty molecules in every billion.
Following their observations, they ran calculations to see whether these amounts could come from natural non-biological processes on the planet.
These non-biological sources were found to make at most one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw.
Earth bacteria are known to make phosphine: they take up phosphate from minerals or biological material, add hydrogen, and ultimately expel phosphine.
While the discovery of phosphine in Venus’s clouds came as a surprise, the researchers are confident in their detection. »