Scientists revealed that traces of a gas in the clouds of Venus could indicate some form of life on the planet, according to a new study made public on Monday.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature Astronomy, reported the presence of phosphine — a toxic gas produced by some microbes that live in animal intestines on Earth — in the Venusian atmosphere.
While researchers are not confirming that the detection of phosphine is absolute proof of life, they also have not been able to find a better explanation for why the gas exists on the planet.
"So far we've done everything we can, which is go through all the things that it isn't. We've thought of every possible mechanism, plausible or implausible, that could make phosphine and we cannot come up with any," Clara Sousa-Silva, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at MIT told Axios.
Scientists made the discovery using two different telescopes: ALMA in Chile in 2019 and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in 2017. In order to confirm the findings of the research, scientists will need to use other observatories to have a closer look at Venus's atmosphere.
"This is a very provocative discovery, and I think you'll see more and more papers in the next couple of years building on this as a piece of a story," James Garvin, a planetary scientist at NASA, said.
Many believe this discovery could be a turning point for the exploration of Venus.
"Detecting weird, anomalous chemistry we can't readily explain is in itself a compelling reason — amongst many other existing compelling reasons — to go to Venus to study it," said Paul Byrne, associate professor of Planetary Science at N.C. State University.