May 14, 2021

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They discover possible signs of microscopic life on the planet Venus

Photo: Efraín Morales / SAC

SAN JUAN Although for years Venus has been ignored as a possible place for the existence of life, recently evidence is emerging that points to the possibility that certain microbial organisms exist in the upper layers of the atmosphere of the neighboring planet, reported Monday NASA and astronomers from the European Southern Observatory, among others.

Venus looks spectacular to the naked eye for its impressive brilliance, but the presence of ammonia and sulfuric acid, as well as temperatures of about 860 degrees Fahrenheit, would make anyone think that life is impossible there. However, the environments in which we find life here on Earth are becoming more and more extreme, which is why we call the organisms that live in extreme conditions Extremophiles.

Despite the fact that in recent years several scientists have suggested the possibility of microbial life in the clouds of Venus, now an international team of scientists that includes astronomers from the European Southern Observatory, among others, has found evidence that there may currently be microscopic life on Venus.

The finding is based on the detection of gases such as hydrogen phosphide or phosphine, an indicator of the possible existence of life. This is because according to certain organisms they produce gases as part of their biological activity, in the case of microbial life, they are known to produce this type of toxic gas.

Although it is not ruled out that the gases detected could be caused as a result of some natural process on Venus that we do not yet know, what fascinates scientists is that as far as we know, this gas is produced here on Earth by microscopic organisms, which suggests that on Venus there might be microbial life.

In fact, in some terrestrial caves several anoxic species have been discovered (that do not require oxygen), and curiously they emit the same gas (phosphine) that has now been detected on Venus.

Many of the efforts to find the possibility of life have been concentrated on the planet Mars, and the search for other possible places in our Solar System includes moons of Saturn like Enceladus, and of Jupiter like the moon Europa.

In these moons the existence of liquid water has already been verified, making them places of very good probability for the existence of some forms of life.

But in that search for life, we have looked towards Mars and those moons of the gaseous planets, and we have forgotten to take a “look in the rear view mirror”, since it is possible that something closer to the Sun, that is to say, on Venus, is possible. life, the recent find suggests.

“It is important to clarify that it cannot yet be said that life has been found on Venus,” the Caribbean Astronomy Society (SAC) indicated in a written statement.

The discovery of possible signs of life on the neighboring planet requires additional observations and studies to confirm it. Even if we could send a robotic spacecraft to study Venus’s atmosphere closely (something scientists are already planning) it would be even better.

“If the existence of life is corroborated as close as in other places in our Solar System, this would have great implications.

It would confirm the suspicions that life forms much easier than we thought, and it would even imply that there is probably life scattered elsewhere in the huge Universe, “said the SAC.

The educational entity shared an impressive image of Venus captured from the Island by Efrain Morales, one of the organization’s astrophotographers. In the photo you can see even clouds and some details of the atmosphere of the bright planet, which is observed in these days towards the East, just before sunrise.

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