In an article published on September 19th, 2020, Dennis Overbye speaks on a new discovery that has sparked conversation for the possibility of life on the planet venus. On September 14th, scientists announced the discovery of Phosphine gas on Venus. The significance of this discovery is that scientists don’t know what could potentially produce the gas except for microbes. According to the National Center for Biotechnological Information(NCBI), “Microbes are tiny living things that are found all around us and are too small to be seen by the naked eye. They live in water, soil, and in the air.” Overbye states that “on earth, anyway, the only natural source of phosphine is microbes; the gas is often associated with feces.” He quickly counters this by acknowledging that there is a large possibility that scientists don’t know everything about Phosphine gas.

Microbes, which are both eukaryotes and prokaryotes(or neither), consist of archaea, bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists, and other microscopic animals. Eukaryotes are cells that simply consist of DNA within a nucleus while prokaryotes are unicellular organisms that don’t consist of a nucleus nor organelles. As learned throughout the year, the difference in complexity and functions of eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms widen the array of the potential situation in Venus. If both prokaryotes and eukaryotes can survive in the atmosphere of Venus, the potential answer to what enables this grows. Also, due to the microscopic nature of microbes, also known as microorganisms, it would be very hard to infer whether they are or aren’t present on Venus.

As the article continues, Overbye continues to speak on what was previously known about the planet. He references information from “Carl Sagan, then a doctoral student at the University of Chicago” who “provided an accurate explanation for Venus’s torrid temperature, in his 1960 Ph.D. thesis. The planet’s crushing carbon dioxide atmosphere had created a runaway greenhouse effect, he concluded. Venus was a lifeless desert, at least on the ground.”

With this, Sagan and Harold Morowitz, a biochemist at Yale, pointed out, in 1967, how the clouds of Venus seemed more suitable for life. ““If small amounts of minerals are stirred up to the clouds from the surface, it is by no means difficult to imagine an indigenous biology in the clouds of Venus,” they wrote in a paper in Nature.” These claims, which were not very popular, have become very relevant again due to new findings and open up many possibilities.

All in all, the search for life on other planets is very much up and running. Will we find it soon?


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