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Venus Added to the List of Potentially Habitable Planets after the Detection of Phosphine

Image Created by Joey Serricchio

When it comes to making our brains think about the most suitable planet to live in or the planet that can support life after the Earth the only possible answer we all can agree with is Mars. The only planet which has never left any chance to showcase its features and to fascinate the scientists from all over the world. But on14th September 2020 [Monday] claimed to be a turning point, when scientists from the Royal Astronomical Society reported the presence of Phosphine gas in Venus' atmosphere. The possibility of life on Venus has always been a big question but it seemed out to be more interesting after detecting phosphine gas - a sign of life?

What is Phosphine and How is it Indicating us towards Life?

Phosphine is a chemical compound that is made up of phosphorus with three hydrogen atoms attached to it. It is a colorless, flammable and toxic gas compound that almost smells like rotten fish [highly unpleasant] . On Earth, Phosphine is usually manufactured in industries through human made activities and is found in potions. While PH3 is also connected with an anaerobic ecosystem, which thrives only in an oxygen free environment and is believed to create this gas. If phosphine was found in a clearly uninhabitable state on Earth no biologist would seriously entertain this data and might have added this under the product of organisms living in that surrounding.But this doesn't happen earlier this year, researchers nodded that if a detectable amount of Phosphine could be found on other planets, it simply indicates us towards life . . In the Venus case, the discovery team identified Phosphine at Venus with two different telescopes. The quantity of Phosphine which is detected in the Venusian clouds seems to be far more significant. So we can take any two possibilities with us, which is either there is life on this alien planet or something unexplained and unexpected is taking place there. PH3 is also found in other solar system planets like Jupiter and Saturn - the jovian planets where it is produced in deep atmospheric layers at high temperature and pressures. A group of scientists tried to solve this mysterious presence of the PH3 in the clouds of these planets, investigating various possible sources like atmospheric chemicals and geological processes but none fits the observation. In Venus's case, we need more information about the abundance of PH3 in the Venus atmosphere , conduct more lab work to understand the types of chemical reactions and changes that might take place on Venus.

Image Created by Joey Serricchio

Whether we can think Venus as a habitable planet?

We all are familiar that Venus is the second closest planet to the sun. It has a surface temperature of 880 Fahrenheit , gravity is 904g and surface pressure is 91 atm. This planet is even hotter than Mercury because the carbon dioxide present in its atmosphere traps most of the heat from the sun. This results in the greenhouse effect. There is no measurable internally generated magnetic field associated with the planet Venus. The gases present in its atmosphere are all reduced gases. Any free oxygen formed by photo-dissociation of water or carbon dioxide into the atmosphere's top layers would be consumed quickly by these reduced gases. Moreover the rotation rate is really very slow - one day on Venus takes 243 earth days of time. The gases which are dominant in the venus atmosphere are sulphur and carbon dioxide which is acting as the biggest barrier. This is the reason why the Venusian atmosphere is highly acidic . But are there still some possibilities of life? - According to the analysis, there is a little hope of existence of life near the surface of Venus. The altitudes about 50 km above the surface have a mild temperature and it is said that these regions contain PH3 which can theoretically justify the sign of life .There are some hypothetical micro organisms inhabiting the atmosphere, which could protect Venus from ultraviolet rays. Also the water activity on Venus is less than we predicted , but according to the scientist, they think that a few million years ago, Venus might have oceans perhaps much like those on Earth as water is considered to be the most fundamental forms of life. Venus also has nearly the same mass as the Earth; it is also a terrestrial planet and is considered as an Earth twin. After this , one can only think that Oxygen should be replaced with the Sulphur in order to overcome the various problems.

Image Created by Joey Serricchio


Ever since we have talked about life on other planets it is the Earth that has shaped our ideas and expectations. It is still not relevant to say whether Venus can be our second home where we can get almost the Earth-like environment, but the only closest answer we can get is that it's just too soon to mark. Researchers are still examining these datasets again to check the presence of Phosphine to get adequate information. Moreover,this mystery still needs a lot of investigation by sending different missions as well as researching and we still have much to learn about the chemically active atmosphere of Venus.

“Venus is still an alien planet. There are still a lot of things we need to understand.” (DIRK SCHULZE MAKUCH, Technical University Berlin).


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