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Venus: September 2020


Recent miniaturization of electronics in very small, low-cost and low-power configurations suitable for use in spacecraft have inspired innovative small-scale satellite concepts, such as ChipSats, centimeter-scale satellites with a mass of a few grams.

The putative detection of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus at an abundance of ∼20 ppb suggests that this gas is being generated by either indeterminate abiotic pathways or biological processes.

We revisit the hypothesis that there is life in the Venusian clouds to propose a life cycle that resolves the conundrum of how life can persist aloft for hundreds of millions to billions of years.

The recent candidate detection of 20 ppb of phosphine in the middle atmosphere of Venus is so unexpected that it requires an exhaustive search for explanations of its origin. Phosphorus-containing species have not been modelled for Venusian atmosphere before and our work represents the first attempt to model phosphorus species in Venusian atmosphere.

Measurements of trace-gases in planetary atmospheres help us explore chemical conditions different to those on Earth. Our nearest neighbor, Venus, has cloud decks that are temperate but hyper-acidic. We report the apparent presence of phosphine (PH3) gas in Venusian atmosphere, where any phosphorus should be in oxidized forms.

An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule -- phosphine -- in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.

Keith's note: There is a big press release coming out tomorrow (Monday, 14 September) morning at the Royal Astronomical Society. They want you to know its big news. The press release has been issued in advance to some journalists under embargo - but not others (like us). We have not seen the press release. But according to several sources knowledgeable with the details of the announcement (who are not under embargo) phosphine has been discovered in the atmosphere of Venus. Its presence suggests - suggests - some strange chemistry going on since phosphine is something you'd only expect to see if life (as we know it) was involved.

Keith's 14 Sep update: Apparently the RAS has changed its mind about how it is going to do their big announcement and a live stream will be presented at 11:00 am EDT here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IIj3e5BFp0

We have investigated the possible evolutional history of the water ocean on Venus, adopting the one dimensional radiative-convective model, including the parameters as albedo and relative humidity.

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) scientists leveraged NASA supercomputing resources for several months to model a hypothetical climate history for Venus over the past 4.2 billion years.