In what may ultimately turn out to be a landmark discovery, astronomers have detected a curious chemical in the atmosphere of Venus which could be a sign of alien life. The remarkable find, announced in a paper published on Monday, centers around the gas phosphine, which scientists observed at approximately 30 miles above the surface of Venus. What makes the detection of phosphine so tantalizing is that, here on Earth, it is only produced by industrial activity or found near microbes, which is why it is considered by some researchers to be a good indicator for possible alien life.
In detailing their discovery, the scientists who detected the phosphine noted that an exhaustive analysis determined that is presence 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." With all of these potential origins for the gas having been ruled out, they argued that the phosphine found in the atmosphere of Venus could have been created, as seems to be case here on Earth, by some kind of microbial life.
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