A group of astrophysicists says they’ve accidentally stumbled upon a “possible hint” of life on Venus: an “unexplained” chemical that could indicate the presence of anaerobic bacteria or even ongoing activity associated with specific chemical processes.
Live Science reports that the team was trying to get a “baseline” read for phosphine from a planet — Venus — not thought to have phosphine in its atmosphere. After all, the surface temperature of Venus is thought to be somewhere above 880 degrees Fahrenheit — the melting point of lead — and its atmosphere is more than 96% carbon dioxide, conditions considered inhospitable for most life forms.
“Venus has not previously been considered a likely site for life in this solar system, so scientists had yet to explore such questions with the same level of resources devoted to hunting for signs of life on Mars. The hot, almost Earth-size planet with its toxic atmospheric chemistry destroys even the hardiest robots within minutes,” Live Science notes.