The phosphine is there.
Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes - floating free of the scorching surface, but still needing to tolerate very high acidity. They say detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial "aerial" life. "This has the potential to be the biggest news in astronomy, but of course we have to do our due diligence and rule out any other possibilities".
The global scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile. Jane Greaves of Cardiff University and the leader of the research project, said at a news briefing Monday. They studied the origin of phosphine, but no inorganic processes, including supply from volcanos and atmospheric photochemistry can explain the detected amount of phosphine. Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Stargazers will be able to spot our seventh planet this week without the use of a telescope, as long as they know where to look!
The search for phosphine in Venus's atmosphere began in 2016 and included separate data collected from ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. It costs them energy to do this, so why they do it is not clear.
Phosphine is one of the most foul-smelling gases known to man, with the odour of rotting fish, it is often found in penguin dung and pond slime.
If we gather enough evidence in the future to show it is there, the most pressing question becomes: how similar is it to life on Earth?
Venus is known to be hot and acidic, which is why the conditions on the ground would make any kind of life nearly impossible, but the environment on its upper cloud decks is reported to be habitable. Microbes on Earth can not survive that acidity.