News and updates

Venus Phosphine Update

Venus clouds
One year after the announcement of phosphine (PH3) gas in the Venus atmosphere (1), the discovery remains highly controversial. The original PH3 announcement is based on a single-millimeter wavelength absorption line, the PH3 1–0 rotational transition at 1.123 mm wavelength. The spectral feature was observed by two independent facilities, both…

Did Venus ever have oceans?

Imagine our sister planet Venus billions of years ago being an ocean-filled world like Earth is today. The thinking is that at some point Venus underwent a “runaway greenhouse” where the surface became so hot the oceans boiled off, leaving a barren surface too hot for life of any kind.…

Are Venus’ cloud layers too dry for life?

venus life
Scientists have speculated about life in the Venus clouds for over half a century. In theory the conditions for life are met: an energy source, the right temperature for molecules, and a liquid environment. The Venus cloud-layer atmosphere, however, is an incredibly challenging environment for life of any kind. One…

What is the source of PH3 on Venus?

venus volcano
The source of phosphine (PH3) on Venus is unknown. There could be an as yet unknown geochemistry or photochemistry process. Or, there could possibly be life in the Venus cloud layers producing PH3 (1). In a ~100 page paper we review the abiological scenarios and find none that can match…

Venus Phosphine team’s response to criticism regarding the statistical significance and interpretation of the detection of phosphine on Venus.

Venus clouds
The Venus phosphine team posted two preprints on arXiv in response to criticism regarding the statistical significance and the interpretation of the detection of phosphine on Venus. The team addressed some misconceptions about de-trending of spectral baselines, the probability of getting “fake lines” (the probability for such “fake lines” is…

Evidence for Phosphine in Pioneer-Venus Data

Pioneer-Venus
An independent team has revisited archived Pioneer-Venus data and analyzed the gas fragments measured at 51 km altitude. Among the many results is evidence for phosphine gas, primarily by detection of the phosphorus ion (P+). The instrument was a neutral gas “mass spectrometer” which ionizes the gases and subjects them…

ALMA recalibrated Venus data

ALMA
Due to intense and expected scientific scrutiny, the ALMA Observatory carefully checked the data processing and found a problem with the way they used Jupiter’s moon Calisto for the Venus data calibration. For background, most large international observatories (including the Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA TESS mission) provide calibrated…

Venus Life Finder Study Kick Off Meeting

Venus Life Finder mission
75 of the world’s leading scientists and engineers, in fields including Astrobiology, Chemistry and Spacecraft Design, met virtually on Friday 18th September 2020 for the Venus Life Finder Study Kick-Off Meeting. Representatives attended from universities and the private sector, including: MIT, Cardiff University, Breakthrough Initiatives, JPL, Georgia Tech, Caltech, Planetary Science Institute and many…

MIT and Breakthrough Announce Venus Life Finder Mission Study

Venus Missions
MIT and the Breakthrough Initiatives are undertaking a Venus Life Finder Mission Concept Study. The study is inspired by the discovery of phosphine (PH3) gas in the Venusian atmosphere. On Earth PH3 is only produced by life and on Venus there is so far no explanation for PH3’s presence involving…
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