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Scientists detect phosphine, a potential biosignature, in atmosphere of Venus
Posted: Sun, Sep 20, 2020, 9:47 AM ET (1347 GMT)
The discovery of a potential biomarker in the atmosphere of Venus could boost the prospects of future missions there. Scientists announced Monday they used groundbased telescopes to discover traces of phosphine in the upper atmosphere of the planet. On Earth, phosphine is created by microbial life in oxygen-free environments, and scientists said that while the discovery of the gas at Venus is not definitive proof of life there, they could not identify any alternative means to produce it. The discovery comes as NASA and other space agencies are considering proposals for Venus missions in the coming years, while Rocket Lab is working on a privately funded mission that could launch in 2023. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted in response to the news that "it's time to prioritize Venus."
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