At this point in human history, the appeal of finding a new habitable planet is greater than ever. Unfortunately, Venus ain’t it.
At least not for us puny carbon-based lifeforms.
However, scientists claim that they detected a potential sign of life on the second rock from the sun.
Venus is one of the brightest objects in Earth’s night sky. Named for the goddess of love and beauty, it’s a total Monet once you take a closer look.
Although the planet is similar to Earth in size and composition, Venus is wrapped in a toxic layer of greenhouse gases. It’s the hottest planet in the solar system at about 900 degrees and has surface air pressure 90 times that of Earth.
According to NASA, “Venus’ extreme temperatures and acidic clouds make it an unlikely place for life as we know it.”
But what about life as we don’t know it? A while back, we covered the concept of “lyfe,” a new definition for alien organisms. It’s possible that something is living on Venus, but whatever it is won’t look anything like the aliens we’re used to seeing in sci-fi.
In fact, you’ll be disappointed to find out that the Venusians–if they exist–are just airborne microbes.
Scientists recently observed large quantities of phosphine gas in Venus’s atmosphere. This gas is the byproduct of microbes in environments without much oxygen–such as the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere of Venus.
The gas is located about 30 miles about the surface, far from the crushing pressure and acidic clouds. And so far, scientists are stumped as to how it got there. To the extent of our current knowledge, phosphine could only be produced by some kind of life.
The Guardian speculates that these microbes (if they exist) could be the remnants of life on a once-vibrant planet. What if Venus is actually a cautionary tale for our own planet? Our “twin” in the solar system was rendered uninhabitable by greenhouse gases some 2 billion years ago. Scientists believe there might once have been water, even oceans, on the planet before it boiled away.
The idea that Venus once hosted a civilization that self-destructed through climate change is fascinating–and horrifying. However, there’s no evidence that anything more complex than microbes has ever existed there. And even the microbes are up in the air, if you’ll excuse the pun.