The search for alien life has largely focused on Mars, but scientists at MIT, Cardiff University and elsewhere reported startling findings in September on what could be signs of life in the clouds of Venus.
While Venus is similar to Earth in size, mass and rock composition, its surface temperatures reach 900 ° F and its atmosphere is permeated with thick clouds of sulfuric acid billions of times more acidic than n ‘ any environment on Earth.
There is, however, a narrow strip of 48 to 60 kilometers above the surface where temperatures range from 30 to 200 ° F. In this temperate region, astronomers have detected a pattern of light associated with phosphine, a stinking gas. and toxic which MIT astronomers have shown could not be produced on rocky planets by means other than living organisms. The team used computer models to explore all of the other mechanisms that might produce phosphine in the harsh environment of Venus and arrived empty.
If there is much life on Venus, the researchers say, it is an “aerial” form that only exists in this band of clouds.
“A long time ago, it was believed that Venus had oceans, and was probably habitable like Earth,” says co-author Clara Sousa-Silva, former researcher in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences . “As Venus became less hospitable, life should have adapted, and they could now be in this tight envelope of the atmosphere where they can still survive.