Aliens could be living on Venus as scientists find signs of life on planet

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Scientists may have just taken a huge step forwards in the search for aliens, after discovering signs of life on Venus.

An international team of astronomers, led by Cardiff University, have discovered a rare molecule called phosphine in the clouds of Venus.

According to the researchers, the discovery points to extra-terrestrial life on Venus.

To detect the phosphine, the researchers used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii, before confirming their findings with 45 telescopes of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.

Professor Jane Greaves, who led the study, said: “This was an experiment made out of pure curiosity, really – taking advantage of JCMT’s powerful technology, and thinking about future instruments.

“I thought we’d just be able to rule out extreme scenarios, like the clouds being stuffed full of organisms. When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’ spectrum, it was a shock!”

A further analysis revealed that phosphine is present but scarce within Venus’ atmosphere, with around 20 molecules in every billion.

A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was then tasked with assessing the ways in which phosphine could have been made on Venus.

Some ideas include sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes or lightning.

However, none of these processes could make anywhere near enough of the molecule, according to the researchers.

Instead, the researchers claim that microbes would only need to work at about 10% of their maximum productivity to produce the amount of phosphine detected.

Venus is extremely hot and hyper-acidic, meaning any aliens living there would likely be very different to life on Earth.

Dr Clara Sousa Silva, an MIT team member, explained: “The discovery raises many questions, such as how any organisms could survive. On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid in their environment – but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of acid.”

While the findings are no doubt very exciting, the researchers highlight that more work needs to be done to confirm the presence of life on Venus.

Professor Emma Bunce, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “A key question in science is whether life exists beyond Earth, and the discovery by Professor Jane Greaves and her team is a key step forward in that quest.

“I’m particularly delighted to see UK scientists leading such an important breakthrough – something that makes a strong case for a return space mission to Venus.”

Science Minister Amanda Solloway added: “This discovery is immensely exciting, helping us increase our understanding of the universe and even whether there could be life on Venus.”

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