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Life in the clouds of Venus: The presence of phosphine on the planet has been confirmed

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Life in the clouds of Venus: The presence of phosphine on the planet has been confirmed

A year after discovering phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus, a signal that many believe may be a sign of microscopic life, the research team behind the discovery has re-examined the findings. And, they say, this analysis only confirms their original findings.

On Earth, most living things release carbon dioxide or oxygen into the atmosphere. But some species of organisms that live in extreme conditions, dubbed “extremophiles,” can emit phosphorus gas, known as phosphine.

In 2020, researchers examining data from a pair of large telescopes found distinctive signatures of this gas in the Venusian atmosphere, and in concentrations that indicate the presence of life spewing phosphine.

“The chemical phosphine (PH3) is considered a biomarker because it is difficult to create by the normal chemical processes believed to occur on or around a rocky planet such as Venus,” the NASA report explains.

The discovery sparked a wave of reactions, from outright elation over the discovery of signs of extraterrestrial life to doubts about whether the phosphine signal had been detected at all.

In an attempt to solve this problem, at least as far as possible before in situ measurements by future probes can answer the question once and for all, the research team, which initially got controversial results, took a fresh look at the data. And what they found seems to confirm their original conclusion.

“Re-analysis of inherited data collected by NASA’s Pioneer-Venus Neutral Gas Mass Spectrometer (LNMS) at 51.3 km shows the presence of PH3 in the clouds of Venus,” the researchers explain in a statement.

Moreover, they note that “PH3 (phosphine) is the only P-containing molecule that matches the data and is in gas form at 51.3 km above the level of Venus.

This is quite convincing, the researchers note, because “+P does not overlap with any other fragment of neutral gas mass expected from the atmosphere of Venus, which gives +P a unique and reliable detection.”

Feeling confident in their conclusion, the researchers confirmed the result, including ruling out a possible false signal from a naturally occurring process.

“It could be argued that there are very small amounts, such as phosphoric acid vapor, that could have fragmented into +P,” the researchers suggested, “but confirmatory acid fragmentation ions were not detected, and they should have been.”

In the end, the research team concluded, “We insist on the existence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus, while recognizing that the dispute may never be resolved until in situ measurements in the atmosphere of Venus are returned.”

In June 2021, NASA announced a pair of future missions to the fiery world, both of which will feature instruments capable of ending the phosphine controversy once and for all. The two missions, named DAVINCI+ (Exploring Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging in Venus’ Deep Atmosphere) and VERITAS (Exploring Venus’ Radiative Capability, Radar, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy), are part of NASA’s Discovery program.

“Using the advanced technology that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we are beginning a new decade of studying Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a greenhouse,” NASA Assistant Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement about the two new missions. “Our goals are profound. It’s not just to understand planetary evolution and habitability in our own solar system, but to go beyond those limits to exoplanets, an exciting and evolving area of NASA research.”

The launch of both DAVINCI+ and VERITAS satellites is expected around the end of this decade, so it may be some time before that question is answered definitively.

However, given the detailed reanalysis of the original signal by a team of researchers, as well as attempts by these same researchers to respond directly to each of the previous criticisms of their original finding, the options seem to be increasingly narrowed toward the original finding being credible.

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“Alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, researchers say

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An organization of civilian volunteers dedicated to the study of
unidentified flying objects (UFOs) has issued a statement based on
decades of studying eyewitness reports. According to Mutual UFO Network,
“alien bases” may be hiding off the coast of Alaska, reports the-sun.com.

Researchers
say the deep waters in this region may hold something surprising. After
analyzing reports from the ship’s crew from 1945, they hypothesized
that alien objects could be lurking underwater, off the coast of the
state.

Alleged sightings of alien spacecraft nearly 80 years ago
have become a key point in research. Members of the organization believe
that UFOs move over water and may have “bases.”

Researchers
allege crew members on a U.S. Army transporter ship sailing past Island
Adak saw a massive UFO sized 150 to 200 feet emerge from the water.
Although these reports are nowhere to be found, UFO enthusiasts believe
the unidentified flying vehicles likely were used to commute to
different supposed alien bases hiding in the deep waters.

As
the “secret reports” of the sailors aren’t available, investigators
have taken it upon themselves to unravel the mystery surrounding the
unidentified flying objects and they believe the ocean has alien bases
that humans aren’t aware of.

Enthusiasts claim that UFOs may be
using “underwater networks” or wormholes as superhighways to travel
between points in the universe. UFO researcher Johnny Enoch added that
such objects could serve as a vehicle for aliens.

There are also
theories that other places on Earth could serve as bases for alien life.
A mountain in Seoul, South Korea is believed to be hiding a UFO,
according to Dr. Steven Greer.

An episode of the series “The
Alaska Triangle” features satellite imagery that claims to show one of
the “alien bases” in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

Meanwhile,
another researcher featured in the program showed markings from the sea
bed that she claimed could have been roadways for aliens.

While
the mysteries of the ocean remain unsolved, researchers continue their
search, trying to unravel the mystery of what may be hiding in the
depths of the waters off the coast of Alaska.

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Enormous City-Size Comet Racing Towards Earth Grows ‘Devil Horns’ After Massive Eruption

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A volcanic comet the size of a mid-sized US city has
violently exploded for the second time in four months as it continues
racing toward the earth. And following the massive eruption, the cloud
of ice and gas sprouted what looked like a pair of gigantic devil horns.

The city-sized comet, named 12P/Pons-Brooks, is a cryovolcanic — or
cold volcano — comet. It has a solid nucleus, with an estimated diameter
of 18.6 miles, and is filled with a mix of ice, dust and gas known as
cryomagma. The nucleus is surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of gas called a
coma, which leaks out of the comet’s interior.

When solar radiation heats the comet’s insides, the pressure builds up
and the comet violently explodes, ejaculating its ice-cold innards into
space through seeping cracks in the nucleus’s shell.

Live Science report:
On Oct. 5, astronomers detected a large outburst from 12P, after the
comet became dozens of times brighter due to the extra light reflecting
from its expanded coma, according to the British Astronomical Association (BAA), which has been closely monitoring the comet 

Over the next few days, the comet’s coma expanded further and developed its “peculiar horns,” Spaceweather.com
reported. Some experts joked that the irregular shape of the coma also
makes the comet look like a science fiction spaceship, such as the
Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.

The unusual shape of the comet’s coma is likely due to an irregularity in the shape of 12P’s nucleus, Richard Miles, a BAA astronomer, told Live Science after the comet’s previous eruption.
The outflowing gas is likely being partially obstructed by a notch
sticking out on the nucleus, Miles said. As the gas continues to expand
away from the comet, the irregularity in the coma’s shape becomes more
defined and noticeable, he added.

12P is currently hurtling toward the inner solar system, where it
will be slingshotted around the sun on its highly elliptical 71-year
orbit around our home star — similar to the green comet Nishimura, which
pulled off a near-identical maneuver on Sept. 17

12P will reach its closest point to Earth on April 21, 2024, when it
may become visible to the naked eye before being catapulted back toward
the outer solar system. It will not return until 2095.

This is the second time 12P has sprouted its horns this year. On July
20, astronomers witnessed the comet blow its top for the first time in
69 years (mainly due to its outbursts being less frequent and harder to
spot during the rest of its orbit). On that occasion, 12P’s coma grew to
around 143,000 miles (230,000 km), which is around 7,000 times wider
than the comet’s nucleus.

It is unclear how large the coma grew during the most recent
eruption, but there are signs the outburst was “twice as intense” as the
previous one, the BAA noted. By now, the coma has likely shrunk back to
near its normal size.

As 12P continues to race toward the sun, there is a high probability
that we will witness several more major eruptions. It is possible that
those eruptions will be even bigger than the most recent one as the
comet soaks up more solar radiation, according to Spaceweather.com.

But 12P is not the only volcanic comet that astronomers are currently
monitoring: 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann (29P) — the most volatile volcanic
comet in the solar system — has also had several noticeable eruptions
in the last year.

In December 2022, 29P experienced its largest eruption in around 12 years, which sprayed around 1 million tons of cryomagma into space. And in April this year, for the first time ever, scientists accurately predicted one of 29P’s eruptions before it actually happened, thanks to a slight increase in the comet’s brightness in the lead-up to the icy explosion.

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