Life Beyond Earth: Venus


by Angela Tatsch, Reporter

Life beyond Earth. This is a topic we’ve all pondered at least once in our lives, and every day the answer seems to be moving closer to yes. On Sept. 14, 2020, evidence was published about possible life existing on our closest neighboring planet: Venus.

Venus is the number one most accidentally reported UFO. Although this is clearly a laughable coincidence, it does show how humanity’s eagerness for alien existence doesn’t dwindle. This is why in 1962, as soon as Venus’ drastic conditions were understood, most scientists and astronomers set sail for a more habitable planet. However, a group from Nature Astronomy didn’t give up hope on Venus, and luckily, their pursuit paid off. In 2017, they stumbled upon gaseous evidence that could prove the existence of life beyond Earth. For three years this group reviewed their findings and theories, and then they published their results for the world to see.

The evidence: phosphine. This compound was set long ago as a precursor for alien life due to its ability to foster bacteria on Earth without oxygen, but never would scientists have imagined finding it on Venus. Large, unimaginable amounts of this gas were found in Venus’ acidic clouds, with no known source of its birth. In order to narrow down the possibilities, Nature Astronomy researched numerous ways Venus could produce such vast amounts of this compound. They ruled out all known non-life means of its production such as Venus’ atmospheric conditions and volcanic activity. Due to this, the only plausible solution (within our current knowledge) is from biological processes.

Since the evidence’s release, there have been numerous opinions and conspiracy theories about how it came to fruition. But the facts are clearly written out: evidence has been found and with great probability. It is true though that Venusian clouds are very acidic, and although there are certain bacteria on Earth that can survive acidic conditions, Venus’ atmosphere has many contrasting characteristics that could hinder life.

Nonetheless, this life-changing discovery of phosphine on Venus will certainly pave the way for future missions to Venus and will help expand understanding of planets and other life forms. This will also challenge astronomers and engineers to create more durable designs in order to survive the insane pressures and temperatures of Venus. Such expeditions will be the next step for humankind (earthling kind if I may say) to travel and subsequently create technology to venture out past Earth.

This, as Neil Armstrong would say, is the next giant leap for mankind.