A new study of the composition of the Venusian atmosphere has apparently yielded further evidence of the possible existence of life on the planet, EarthSky reports.
This development comes after last year’s announcement of the discovery of phosphine – a toxic gas that may be a byproduct of inorganic chemical reactions and of microbes that live and reproduce without oxygen - in Venus’ atmosphere.
The new study, led by Rakesh Mogul from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona supports the discovery of phosphine, and focuses on the re-analysis of data supplied by a probe fitted with a Large Probe Neutral Mass Spectrometer, that descended to Venus’ surface back in 1978 during the Pioneer Venus mission.
"Our results reveal the presence of several minor chemical species in Venus’ clouds including phosphine, hydrogen sulfide, nitrous acid (nitrite), nitric acid (nitrate), hydrogen cyanide, and possibly ammonia," the researchers state. "The presence of these chemicals suggest that Venus’ clouds are not at equilibrium; thereby, illuminating the potential for [possibly life-related] chemistries yet to be discovered."
As the media outlet points out, however, while chemical disequilibrium on Earth "is due to life", the same is not necessarily true for Venus, and more data, "most likely from a return mission", is needed to answer this question.