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New Venus discoveries stir up the desire for astrobiological missions

Scientists are eager to understand if Venus could be habitable. The discovery of phosphine in this planet’s atmosphere triggered the need to get more details concerning this discovery. Typically, phosphine has connections with life forms. Scientists are committing to do more research to prove the validity of this statement on Venus. 

There are new concerns that scientists could venture into this planet’s atmosphere with spacecraft that can withstand acidic conditions. It will be great to understand this planet’s nature after it being unexplored for over three decades. Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin stated that they would be observing the planet since it offers more exploratory details compared to Mars.

Scientists have always wanted to navigate through Venus and understand it. Nevertheless, no spacecraft has been able to withstand the acidic atmosphere of the planet for three hours. Most of the time, the components of the craft would end up shattering or melting away. Currently, Venus is explorable with just one craft called the Japan Akatsuki. The spacecraft has been monitoring Venus’ atmosphere while analyzing the weather of the planet.

NASA will be combining its efforts with other companies to send a spacecraft to the planet after listening to various research reports by different explorers about the planet. NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine stated that they would be seeking to understand the probability of life habiting the planet.

NASA is preparing two plans to present for budget allocation by the US government to explore the possibility of life on Venus. Other similar explorers in this line of missions are India’s Shukrayaan-1, which will be heading for the planet in the coming three years. Elsewhere, the European Space Agency is advocating for the mission to send a spacecraft on the planet in the next decade to identify the phosphine source.

Limaye admitted that Venus’s exploration would require more spacecraft, with each handling a different aspect, until they understand its elements. The next question will be choosing the first spacecraft to send to the planet for the mission.

Finally, the discovery of phosphine is still debatable, considering its conduction through telescopes located on Earth. One of the reasons for this argument is that the phosphine discovered might not actually be phosphine. The resemblance of the lines observed on the barcode index with phosphine does not necessarily mean it was phosphine. The other source of argument is that the telescope does not tell the exact location of the phosphine, making it challenging to know where to look for precisely on the moon.