75: Did Scientists Discover Life on Venus? MIT Professor Sara Seager and The Verge's Loren Grush

Life On Venus

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A conversation with MIT Professor Sara Seager and The Verge Journalist Loren Grush, with Prof. Brian Keating. Loren Grush writes: "Deep within the acidic clouds of Venus, astronomers have detected a tantalizing gas never found on the planet before — a gas that, remarkably, could be a sign of life on the hellish world. The gas’s presence isn’t enough to say for sure that Venus hosts life forms, but the fact that it exists in the planet’s clouds indicates that something is going on there that we don’t fully understand."

"The gas in question is a nasty one called phosphine, a toxic and explosive molecule with a lingering odor of garlic and dead fish. Astronomers discovered the putrid gas lurking within a layer of clouds on Venus, where temperatures are pretty close to those on our planet. They didn’t find much — just small traces in the swirling mix of sulfuric acid clouds that surround the planet. “It’s equivalent to a few tablespoons in an Olympic sized swimming pool,” David Clements, an astrophysicist at the Imperial College of London and part of the team that made the discovery, tells The Verge.