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A high resolution 3D image of the planet Venus, second planet from the Sun which is surrounded by the “invisible” clouds of Venus. Image: WithanTor / Adobe Stock

Can Exploring The Clouds Of Venus Find The Origins Of Life?

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It is known that planet Earth is about 4.54 billion years old and that life on our planet dates from at least 3.5 billion years ago. However, despite knowing when life first appeared on Earth, scientists still debate how life actually began, and whether the seeds of life originated elsewhere in the universe. One place scientists are looking for answers to life on Earth are the clouds of Venus. The clouds of Venus may be far away from our living planet but, believe it or not, these distant gas clouds could answer questions about the beginnings of life on Earth.

This big question has recently been addressed by Prof Jane Greaves, from Cardiff University in Wales. Her answers are presented in a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy . The study scientifically examined gas clouds in the atmosphere of Venus and, according to BBC Science , the new research explored ideas relating to the possibilities of a “complex extraterrestrial life ” form, that might have evolved in alien worlds.

Is It Possible Phosphine Gas Has Non-Biological Origins?

The gaseous cloud around planet Venus consists of phosphine (PH3), a colorless and explosive gas that smells of garlic or decaying fish. On Earth, phosphine is naturally produced by decomposing organic matter and microbes in animal guts, which lived in oxygen-poor environments like swamps and bogs. What then do we make of Prof Jane Greaves detection of phosphine molecules floating about 31 miles (50 kilometers) above the surface of Venus?

If phosphine exists around Venus then the logical conclusion is that Venus must have at one time supported organic life . But how did it get there? Is it a leftover of Anunnaki time-travelers or visitors from the Pleiades who inhabited Venus? Maybe but maybe not. This latest scientific paper analyzes the possibility that the PH3 molecule has “natural, non-biological origins.”

Phosphine is a colorless, flammable, and explosive gas compound composed of 1 Phosphorus and 3 Hydrogen molecules. (Maria Schmitt / Adobe Stock)

Phosphine is a colorless, flammable, and explosive gas compound composed of 1 Phosphorus and 3 Hydrogen molecules. ( Maria Schmitt / Adobe Stock)

How Could Life Exist On Or Around Fiery Venus?

Until now, the phosphine around Venus has been viewed as coming from a living source. So far, science has not been able to prove a viable physical origin for phosphine, as opposed to a biological source.

Dr William Bains, an MIT biochemist, stated in the New York Times that the phosphine clouds of Venus consist of about 75-95% sulphuric acid. And for PH3 to have resisted the decaying effects of this cloud of sulphuric acid “airborne Venusian microbes” would have to have been based on a “radically different biochemistry,” or that they evolved to have some “kind of armor.”

It should be made clear here that the researchers are not claiming that life has been found on Venus. The real challenge here is finding unknown geological and physical chemical pathways that could have led to the production of the phosphine in the clouds around Venus.

In discussing the idea of ancient life on Venus, Dr Bains told Sky At Night that, “In principle, a more water-loving life could hide itself away inside a protective shell of some sorts inside the sulphuric acid droplets.” He says the paradox with this idea arises from tough questions: “How do they eat, and how do they exchange gases?” on the surface of a fireball?

A high-resolution 3D image of the planet, which is surrounded by the “invisible” clouds of Venus. (mrtimmi / Adobe Stock )

What If Life Began On Earth, Not In Deep-Space?

This is not to say that there is no organic life out there in deep space, but that it probably won’t be found on Venus. The implication is the very opposite if we think about it.

If these scientists do find a physical origin for phosphine, it raises the question as to whether life on Earth might also have evolved from geology. Therefore, the hidden question is: Did life emerge on Earth, not in space?

What if the origins of life are both in space and on our planet, and geological rather than biological? (GiroScience / Adobe Stock )

With our present lack of understanding human origins, we must resist reaching for “extraterrestrial life” as an answer. Consider that Thor of Norse mythology, Teshub of Hurrian legends, Set of Egyptian cosmology, and Vahagn of Armenian folklore were all seen in a different light in 1772 when Benjamin Franklin demonstrated how thunderstorms created electricity.

Perhaps in the future our descendants will look back and laugh at how far off the mark we were while searching for our origins, when we realize humans crawled from beneath rocks like all other creatures, and that our progenitors were geological. And the first clue to this age-old dilemma may be the gas clouds that surround Venus.

Top image: A high resolution 3D image of the planet Venus, second planet from the Sun which is surrounded by the “invisible” clouds of Venus. Image: WithanTor / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

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