A team of scientists has announced the discovery of a certain amino acid in Venus' atmosphere, which may hint at the presence of life on that planet, Science Alert reports.
According to the media outlet, the amino acid in question, glycine, is the simplest of the amino acids present in the genetic code, adding that although amino acids are not biosignatures - ie they are not surefire signs that life exists - they serve as building blocks for proteins, not to mention that they were "some of the first organic molecules to appear on Earth".
Having reportedly discovered glycine's presence on Venus via spectroscopy while using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the authors of the research argued that the amino acid's "detection in the atmosphere of Venus might be one of the keys to understanding the formation mechanisms of prebiotic molecules in the atmosphere of Venus".
"The upper atmosphere of Venus may be going through nearly the same biological method as Earth billions of years ago", they postulated.
The team pointed out, however, that glycine's discovery in Venusian atmosphere is a “hint of the existence of life but not robust evidence".
"The detection of glycine in the atmosphere of Venus may indicate the existence of an early form of life in the atmosphere of the solar planet because amino acid is a building block of protein. Venus may be going through the primary stage of biological evolution", the researchers mused. "Though in Earth, glycine is produced by biological procedures, it is possible that in Venus glycine is produced by other photochemical or geochemical means, not common on Earth."
They also stated that the presence of glycine on the planet could be confirmed by a "Venus mission with direct sampling from the Venusian surface and cloud".