Are we alone? It’s a question that has been asked by humankind for quite a while now, you know, basically since science and technology evolved enough to prove that we are not the only planet in space. And, as such, scientists and astronauts alike have completed mission after mission all in the name of finding life outside of our habitable atmosphere.
Well, we’ve supposedly found it, or at least something suggesting that it’s possible.
Where? Only on the hottest planet in our solar system – Venus.
According to a recent leak from the British Royal Astronomical Society, particles have been found in the upper atmosphere of the other blue planet that insinuates that life, of some form or another, once existed on Venus.
So what did they find?
Phosphine, and significant amounts of it, apparently. If you aren’t familiar with the chemical compound, as I wasn’t, phosphine is made up of three hydrogen atoms and one phosphorus atom. But what’s significant about this is that, according to science, there are very few reasons phosphine exists. Most commonly, it is a result of the breakdown of organic tissue or matter.
And what is organic tissue or matter? Something living, i.e., life.
According to astrobiology.com, “according to several sources knowledgeable with the details of the announcement, phosphine has been discovered in the atmosphere of Venus. Its presence suggests – suggests – some strange chemistry going on since phosphine is something you’d only expect to see if life (as we know it) was involved. The presence of phosphine is seen my many astrobiologists as a ‘biosignature,’ i.e., an indicator of the possible presence of life.”
Obviously, the discovery has gotten more than a few people excited about not being the only life in space.
However, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves here.
Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, phosphine is most generally a result of life breaking down, meaning that whatever life form this came from is no longer, well, alive.
Secondly, it was found in the upper atmosphere of Venus, not on its surface. Now, that doesn’t mean that Venusian life can’t exist up there. In fact, it’s likely the only place life could take place within thousands of miles of the planet.
Scientists believe that this may be proof that life once existed on the planet and has since been eradicated.
You see, according to popular theories on Venus, the planet was much like ours in the early stages of development. In fact, it is thought that liquid, so water could have present on the planet for about 750 million years or so, allowing life to thrive.
However, at some point, no one really knows when or how the planet suddenly grew very hot. (Probably because Venusians refused to stop using fossil fuels or something). And I when I say hot, I mean far beyond boiling.
Between 1967 and 1983, the Soviet Union sent several dozen probes to Venus successfully. Well, at least partially so. They were successful in that they arrived on Venus and were able to send back environmental data and video. However, even the most robust of these couldn’t last more than a few hours, due to the extremely high heat.
According to space.com, temps can reach nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is definitely hot enough to melt just about any metal, as well as render the planet nearly void of any liquid.
In addition, the surface is partially molten in some areas, and the atmospheric pressure is heavier than if you were more than 3,000 feet below water. Plus, there is near-constant rain. I know, I said there was no water. And there isn’t. This rain is actually sulfuric acid…
Talk about hellish.
The upper atmosphere, on the other hand, as it is miles away from the boiling surface of the planet, is much cooler and surrounded by a multitude of liquid vapers. This and the vast number of tests that are being run on the situation suggest that the presence of life is really the only explanation, at least as of yet.
So no, they have not found a species of alien life that is ready to surround and eat us all. And it really doesn’t change much; we still can’t live on Venus should Earth follow in her footsteps due to the climate crisis or whatever they say is going on.
The only thing it may do is to tell us that life once existed there and possibly even survived long after it should have, considering the hellish atmosphere. If that’s the case, and our planet is soon to fall prey to global warming, maybe we can learn how to live in extreme heat, too, if even for a short while.