The “Venus theory of life” has not been overturned: it is determined that there is still a small amount of hydrogen phosphate in the atmosphere

BEIJING, Nov. 19, according tomedia reports, the latest data analysis shows that Venus’ atmosphere of gaseous hydrogen phosphate signs have been reduced a lot, but they still exist, which means that the potential for mysterious life in Venus’ atmosphere has not been completely overturned. In September, an international team of astronomers reported the discovery of hydrogen phosphate in Venus’ atmosphere, a discovery seen as a potential sign of life that quickly made headlines.

Scientists have long believed that Venus has a dense, acidic atmosphere that is not suitable for life to survive, but new research has questioned the theory that scientists have found hydrogen phosphate gas in Venus’ atmosphere, a sign that is considered an important basis for the existence of life.


The study is an important step in resolving the most exciting debate about Venus in decades, said Sanjay Limaye, a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin. “For him, this scientific debate adds vitality to the exploration of the mystery of Venus.

Their reanalytation process is based on observations from the Atakama Large Millimeter/Sub millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope, which concluded that the average amount of hydrogen phosphate in Venus’ atmosphere is one billionth, about one-seventh of the previous estimate. Unlike their initial reports, scientists now describe the hydrogen phosphate phenomenon they surveyed as a “tentative discovery.”

This is the first time the team has publicly responded to critical comments from the scientific community over the past two months that Bob Grimm, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute who was not involved in the hydrogen phosphate study, said: “The scientific reanalytation process is very meaningful. “At the moment, researchers are more likely to conduct more studies to validate and gather some evidence that either confirms the veracity of the phenomenon or refutes the conclusion.


In the September study, the team used observations from the ALMA telescope and the Maxwell telescope (JCMT) to make the discovery, and Jane Greaves, an astronomer at cardiff University in the UK, said: ‘My colleagues and I re-analysed the results because the original ALMA data may contain untrue signals that affect the conclusions.’ On November 16th researchers released revised data from the ALMA telescope, while Greaves carried out the latest analysis and published the results.

According to Greaves and her colleagues, ALMA data show that Venus’ atmosphere has spectral characteristics of hydrogen phosphate, a molecule made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms. They point out that there are no other compounds that can explain the data. The discovery of hydrogen phosphate gas in Venus’ atmosphere is very exciting, because the Earth’s microorganisms produce hydrogen phosphate gas, and if the signal is true and indeed biologically sourced hydrogen phosphate, then it is possible that hydrogen phosphate gas is produced by microorganisms floating in Venus’ atmosphere. But there may also be non-biological sources of hydrogen phosphate, which scientists are not sure about. To determine whether both cases are correct, the researchers first need to confirm the presence of hydrogen phosphate.

In a critical discussion of the original study, the researchers noted that the hydrogen phosphate signal in the report may actually have come from sulfur dioxide, a gas commonly found in Venus’ atmosphere, but not from life in Venus’ atmosphere. In their latest report, Greaves and her team counter that hydrogen phosphate is unlikely to be a non-biological source, based on the evidence from data collected by the Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), the second telescope they used. Other critical points focus on the difficulty of extracting hydrogen phosphate signals from complex data.

The researchers reanalyzed and found that hydrogen phosphate concentrations in Venus’ atmosphere occasionally peak at five-tenths of a billionth, which Greaves said meant that methane levels could increase or decrease over time in different parts of the planet, similar to peaks on Mars.

Another new evidence supports the presence of hydrogen phosphate gas in Venus’ atmosphere, inspired by the Greaves study, led by Rakesh Mogul, a biochemist at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, who recently analyzed survey data from NASA’s 1978 Trailblazer-Venus mission and found a phosphorus compound, possibly hydrogen phosphate or even phosphorus-based molecules. It is reported that the “Trailblazer-Venus” mission launched a spacecraft in venus atmosphere to carry out exploration, used to measure the chemical composition of clouds during the landing process. ‘We believe that the simplest gas in Venus’ atmosphere detected by the Trailblazer-Venus mission decades ago is hydrogen phosphate,’ Mughal said at a research conference on November 17.

It’s still being explored

Where Venus’ atmospheric hydrogen phosphate gas came from remains a mystery, with several scientists saying at the conference that even if the concentration of hydrogen phosphate gas was only one-billionth of a level, it could not be explained by volcanic eruptions on Venus’ surface or atmospheric lightning. But it is possible that phosphorus-based compounds may have been formed by geological processes and then converted into other chemicals, such as hydrogen phosphate, which then rises into Venus’ atmosphere.

The only spacecraft currently orbiting Venus is Japan’s Akatsuki probe, which may carry instruments looking for hydrogen phosphate. Meanwhile, Greaves and other researchers are applying for more land-based telescope surveys, including the ALMA telescope.

David Grinspoon, astrobiologist at the Planetary Science Institute, said: “Researchers are looking at other features of Venus, not just the amount of hydrogen phosphate in the atmosphere, and we have 1001 reasons to re-observe Venus, and if further observations reveal the ‘disappearance’ of atmospheric hydrogen phosphate, we still have 1,000 reasons to study and analyze the mysterious planet!” “