NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described the planet Venus as “a stage in our search for life”.
“Today, we are at the peak of startling discoveries that could tell us more about the possibility of life outside the Earth,” he said, in a statement. Astrobiology, which includes the search for life elsewhere, is a key priority at NASA, Bridenstine explained.
Bridenstine cited new research by an international team of astronomers that revealed the discovery of a rare molecule, phosphine, in the clouds of Venus.
Scientists have noted that, on Earth, gas is produced only industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.
VENUS SHOWS SIGNS OF POTENTIAL ALIEN LIFE IN ITS CLOUDS, SCIENTISTS FIND
The research, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in the UK, was announced by the Royal Astronomical Society and published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Bridenstine described the finding as “intriguing”, pointing out that it could point towards biological signatures. “As is normal in science, the more we learn, the more questions we have,” he said. “This is the virtuous cycle of discovery, including the discovery of potential biological signatures on other worlds.”
The NASA chief explained that four missions are being studied for up to two Discovery missions that will be selected in 2021. “Among these are an astrobiology mission to Neptune’s moon Triton and a geological mission to the most volcanically active planetary body in the world. solar system, Jupiter’s moon Io, “he said. “The other two missions considered have proposed missions to Venus. One is focused on understanding its atmosphere and the other is focused on understanding the geological history of Venus. “
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According to Bridenstine, NASA is also partnering with Europe on another proposed Venus mission called EnVision.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers.