A new article in Nature Astronomy reports that non-oxidized phosphine gas (PH3) has been detected in the upper atmosphere of Venus. This is a surprising discovery, as phosphine gas was not expected to be stable in that environment. This suggests that some unexpected process is creating the gas, which could include biological processes.
There is much study still to be done, of course, but this is an exciting discovery! Be sure to check out the paper below; the raw data is publicly available for anyone who wants to do their own analysis as well, linked at the end.
- Greaves et al. "Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus" https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1174-4
- NASA Overview of Venus
- Washington Post: "Scientists spot potential sign of life in Venus atmosphere"
- Topical comic from xkcd
- This is not the first big news on Venus this year; check out UMD research on Venusian volanoes!
- UPDATE 2021 January: For the latest news on this research, check out Phosphine and Venus Update: The Research Goes On