Chemistry is a humorous factor, and so is the seek for extraterrestrial life. They’re, in truth, two nice issues that go nice collectively. The likeliest state of affairs for the detection of life on different worlds is the detection of chemical biosignatures – the presence of chemical substances, or fluctuations in ranges of chemical substances, or each, which don’t have any rationalization aside from the metabolic processes of alien life. The issue is that numerous chemical substances may be produced by a variety of processes, a few of that are metabolic pathways in dwelling organisms, however a few of which aren’t, and telling which is which is much from simple (Mars, as an example, has seasonal fluctuations within the quantity of methane in its environment, however there is no sure proof in any way, at this level, that microbial life is the explanation). Just lately, nonetheless, researchers have discovered proof of a chemical compound referred to as phosphine within the environment of Venus. Venus is without doubt one of the most inhospitable of planets – floor temperature scorching sufficient to soften lead; floor atmospheric strain 90 occasions that on earth’s floor, and it rains sulphuric acid (the Venusian environment is sort of pure carbon dioxide, and its greenhouse results have turned Venus into the hell-world it’s at present). However issues are extra average within the higher ranges of the clouds which completely shroud the Venusian environment, and it is doable – simply doable – that there, life has discovered a foothold, with phosphine as its signature. Phosphine is produced nearly solely on Earth by anaerobic microbes. If there may be life floating above the grim floor of Venus, particular proof is years away, however the presence of phosphine could also be a primary glimpse of its existence.
– Jack Forster, Editor-in-Chief