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Off Topic => General Discussion => Topic started by: Bryanpoprobson on September 14, 2020, 06:00:03 PM

Title: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: Bryanpoprobson on September 14, 2020, 06:00:03 PM
A UK study has found Phosphene Gas in the clouds of Venus, this is a bio marker gas.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: Peter B on September 14, 2020, 10:31:26 PM
Similar story: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-09-15/life-on-venus-hint-phosphine-gas-discovered-in-clouds/12655772

How exciting!
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: Bryanpoprobson on September 15, 2020, 02:56:52 AM
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: grmcdorman on September 15, 2020, 07:27:13 AM
It's not a very strong case, from what I have read. They need to do a lot of processing to isolate the signal, and they've only found one signal so far. That means it could easily be a spurious signal or artifact.

They were planning to look for other signatures of phosphine, but COVID-19 happened.

So, a weak result that needs a lot of work to verify before it can be considered a real candidate. Still, very interesting and exciting.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: Zakalwe on September 15, 2020, 10:19:53 AM
It's not a very strong case, from what I have read. They need to do a lot of processing to isolate the signal, and they've only found one signal so far. That means it could easily be a spurious signal or artifact.

They were planning to look for other signatures of phosphine, but COVID-19 happened.

So, a weak result that needs a lot of work to verify before it can be considered a real candidate. Still, very interesting and exciting.

They ran a second set of observations using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array and saw a similar result as was observed on the James Clarke Maxwell scope.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: Bryanpoprobson on September 15, 2020, 11:07:53 AM
They ran a second set of observations using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array and saw a similar result as was observed on the James Clarke Maxwell scope.

The corresponding results from both sites showed the same signature. The main reason for the delay in announcing this, was to rule out a natural process that could produce the gas in the volumes seen. This was especially important in an environment like Venus due to the high temperatures and pressures, not withstanding that they believe it could still be geologically active.
The idea of life in the clouds of Venus was raised by Carl Sagan, this team took the view that if that was the case what unique signature would be seen to identify it. The idea of Phosphine being such a marker has been raised before, this team just decided to look for it.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: bknight on September 15, 2020, 12:46:36 PM
Quote
Abstract
Measurements of trace gases in planetary atmospheres help us explore chemical conditions different to those on Earth. Our nearest neighbour, Venus, has cloud decks that are temperate but hyperacidic. Here we report the apparent presence of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venus’s atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms. Single-line millimetre-waveband spectral detections (quality up to ~15σ) from the JCMT and ALMA telescopes have no other plausible identification. Atmospheric PH3 at ~20 ppb abundance is inferred. The presence of PH3 is unexplained after exhaustive study of steady-state chemistry and photochemical pathways, with no currently known abiotic production routes in Venus’s atmosphere, clouds, surface and subsurface, or from lightning, volcanic or meteoritic delivery. PH3 could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of PH3 on Earth, from the presence of life. Other PH3 spectral features should be sought, while in situ cloud and surface sampling could examine sources of this gas.

I concur with the not a strong case observation.  I do admit that I haven't ever written a report of this nature.  The authors left themselves a lot of leeway, perhaps to lead other scientists to investigate the production means other than "life".  I'm not a chemist and don't even understand the biologic production of the gas, but I would caution that there have been many "indications" of life on other planets that has yet to be proved. 
The discovery of life on other planets would indeed be monumental news, but I would not bet against the failure of such discovery.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: raven on September 19, 2020, 05:13:24 AM
Well, it's about time Venus got a little more attention. Some Vega style mission or even an unmanned dirigible if we're feeling fancy could certainly teach a lot.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: JayUtah on September 19, 2020, 11:08:47 AM
Maybe it's just the protomolecule.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: NthBrick on September 19, 2020, 02:11:31 PM
Maybe it's just the protomolecule.
It reaches out. 113 times per second it reaches out.
Title: Re: Life signature found on Venus
Post by: molesworth on September 19, 2020, 02:15:02 PM
Well, it's about time Venus got a little more attention. Some Vega style mission or even an unmanned dirigible if we're feeling fancy could certainly teach a lot.
It looks like Russia will be going ahead with either the joint NASA-ROSCOSMOS Vernar-D mission, and/or one of their own, plus I believe NASA's DAVINCI+ mission is one of the contenders for future development.  With this announcement I expect we'll see a big uptick in proposals, and hopefully a mission or two in the next 5 - 10 years.

Maybe it's just the protomolecule.
I'm (im)patiently waiting for season 5 dates to be announced.  It's been a long wait...