Venus FAQ

Question: Have you found life on Venus?

Answer: No. We have found a robust signal of a gas which does not belong in Venus’ atmosphere. We also cannot find any explanation for production of the gas at observed quantities. More work is needed.

Comment:(seen on Twitter): The lack of anyone on the author list with actual expertise on the planet is telling.

Response: Note that one author is a Venus atmosphere modeler. The others have now worked intensively on Venus for a few years. A number of scientists do move into or switch to new fields of research. Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to motivate something new.

Comment: (seen on Twitter)
This is a one line detection of a simple phosphorous analog of methane.
No confirming lines are easily accessible and P has only one abundant isotope so confirmation will be difficult.

Response: Correct. While team members are trying to follow up with ground-based telescopes (IRTF, the airborne SOFIA, and others) the infrared PH3 lines are weak. Insitu measurements from spacecraft are ultimately going to be needed.