More Moon and Venus

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More Moon and Venus

Venus may be the most inhospitable planet in the solar system — at least at the surface. Temperatures are about 865 degrees Fahrenheit, the pressure is more than 90 times the pressure on Earth, and the atmosphere is made mostly of carbon dioxide — not a pleasant place to visit.

But the story might be different in Venus’s clouds, which blanket the entire planet. The upper layers of clouds are made of sulfuric acid — not a pleasant place, either. A little deeper in the clouds, though, conditions may be more comfortable.

A team of planetary scientists says it’s found evidence of microscopic life in that cloud layer. A couple of years ago, the team reported evidence of phosphine. On Earth, phosphine is most commonly produced by microbes. But it can be produced by volcanoes, which may be common on Venus.

Other teams found no evidence of the compound. But earlier this year, the original team doubled down. By this summer, it had quintupled its observations of Venus. And it said the indications of phosphine were stronger than ever. The team reviewed the work of the other teams, and said their observations also showed evidence of the compound. The team has another hundred hours of telescope time to look at the planet — hunting for more evidence of microscopic life in the clouds of Venus.

Venus teams up with the crescent Moon early tomorrow. It’s the brilliant “morning star,” and huddles quite close to the Moon.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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