The first detection of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus is of great significance in searching for microbial life in the solar system
Photo source: nature astronomy Online
Zhang mengran, reporter of science and Technology Daily
A team of British scientists has detected phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus for the first time, according to a new planetary science discovery published by nature astronomy on the 14th. This discovery suggests that there may be unknown photochemical or geochemical processes on Venus.
On earth, phosphine is considered to be a gas produced by anaerobic organisms. The surface conditions of Venus are not friendly to life, but the environment of the upper cloud cover (about 53-62 km above the surface) is relatively mild. However, the composition of the cloud is strong acid, and phosphine will decompose rapidly in this condition.
This time, a team of researchers including Jane grievous, a scientist from Cardiff University in the UK, observed Venus in 2017 and 2019 with the Maxwell Telescope and the Atacama large millimeter / submillimeter wave array, respectively. They detected a spectral feature of phosphine only, and estimated that phosphine abundance in Venus clouds was 20 ppb.
The team looked at different ways phosphine could be produced, including chemical processes from the surface of Venus, micro meteorites, lightning or clouds. Eventually, they were unable to determine the source of these trace amounts of phosphine.
Venus has a harsh environment, but the atmospheric pressure and temperature in some parts of the atmosphere are very similar to those of the earth, so the planet has always been a subject of great interest to scientists. However, the atmosphere of Venus is also bizarre. It is thicker than the earths atmosphere. Clouds in the upper atmosphere can move at a speed of 100 meters per second, almost 60 times the slow rotation speed of Venus. The highest wind speed on earth is only about one tenth to one fifth of the rotation speed. Japans dawn probe previously sent back the results that Venuss atmospheric composition and dynamics, far more complex than previously expected.
Researchers believe that phosphine detection is not yet a strong evidence of microbial life, but it can indicate that unknown geological or chemical processes may have occurred on Venus. In view of this, they believe that it is necessary to carry out further observation and simulation immediately to find out the source of phosphine in Venus atmosphere.
Chief editor circle
Ppb refers to the concentration of parts per billion. Scientists have made a lot of efforts to find phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. With the help of telescope array, they found the exact evidence of phosphine. Interestingly, phosphine is thought to be a gas produced by anaerobic organisms. The key point here is biology. But Venus is really a harsh planet, only in the high altitude environment left a warm. So, where does phosphine come from? Is it from biology itself, or from other chemical reactions? From the ground or from the air? New discoveries bring new questions and open up new perspectives for researchers. (Science and technology daily)
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