Earlier this month, researchers discovered traces of phosphine in the clouds of Venus, a molecule produced on Earth only as a byproduct of life. A new study suggests that phosphine may have emanated from our planet.
The research, from Harvard University’s Department of Astronomy, suggests that asteroids that have grazed Earth’s atmosphere in the past – believed to be at least 600,000 – may have scraped away microbes living in the atmosphere and carried them to the second. planet of the Sun. System.
“Although the abundance of terrestrial life in the upper atmosphere is unknown, these shepherds grazing the planet may have potentially been able to transfer microbial life between the atmospheres of Earth and Venus,”
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The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, has been published on the pre-press arXiv server.
The idea put forward in Siraj and Loeb’s study is known as panspermia, the hypothesis that life on one planet originated from microorganisms in outer space and moved to another. In recent memory, it has been suggested that life on Earth may have originated in this way.
Other theories suggest that life could also come from comets and asteroids across the universe.
Several previous studies have discussed the idea of panspermia, including one earlier this year that comets may have provided the “essential” for life on Earth.
In 2019, NASA found sugar molecules on two different meteorites, adding credence to the idea that asteroids play a crucial role in sustaining life.
A meteor dented the atmosphere in South Australia in December 2017, causing a fireball that lasted more than 90 seconds. After traveling more than 800 miles through the atmosphere, this 132-pound meteoroid returned to space, according to a paper released in December 2019.
Ultimately, more research is needed to prove the theory, Siraj and Loeb wrote in the study.
“Further work is needed to investigate the existence and abundance of microbial life in the upper atmosphere, particularly at the altitude considered here, ∼ 85 km, at which the object grazing the Earth would avoid significant warming,” they explained. researchers. “Furthermore, if life is discovered by a direct probe sent into the atmosphere of Venus, it will be necessary to calibrate the abundance of life as a function of the altitude on Venus.”
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Venus, which has been called “the evil twin of the Earth”, has an extremely harsh climate, with a surface temperature of 864 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s probably too hot to support life, but NASA recently said it intends to explore the planet. In July, researchers revealed that Venus has nearly 40 active volcanoes on its surface.
Separately in July, a number of researchers argued that going to the second planet in the Solar System could have benefits for a manned mission to Mars.
In late 2019, NASA said it was working on a race-like spacecraft to explore the planet, which has more volcanoes than any other celestial body in the Solar System.
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