Scientists are hoping to return to the moon and land on Mars in the next few years – but now they may pay more attention to another planet.
Scientists have discovered a gas called phosphine on our neighbor planet Venus. Only living bacteria can make this gas on Earth, so scientists believe there could be life on Venus. Are bacteria living and making this gas on Venus?
Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love. It has also been called the morning star because it often shines bright in the eastern sky before sunrise.
Venus is almost the same size as Earth, and the gravity on the surface is nearly the same. But in the first space mission into the Venusian atmosphere, scientists learned that the planet’s surface temperature is a scorching hot 500° Fahrenheit. No life as we know it can survive on the surface.
Gas from Bacteria?
Now, a team of scientists think they have found phosphine in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Phosphine is a smelly and poisonous gas. On Earth, there is no known way to make it with chemicals. Only certain types of anaerobic bacteria can create the gas.
Could this mean that there is life in the upper atmosphere of Venus? Some scientists think so. Others aren’t so sure.
To check if there is life on Venus, we need a space mission. A spacecraft must enter the planet’s atmosphere to collect gas samples, then return to Earth without being destroyed.
Unfortunately, that’s very hard and expensive! At the moment, scientists and businesses are more interested in going to Mars, so it may be a long time until we see a mission to Venus.