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NASA Feeds, UFOs and other unusual things in the sky

Aliens DO exist.

I remember being awakened one night shortly after my sixth birthday. I was lifted from my bed and held in the air. I could see the haze of the grey-skinned alien holding me, its long fingers probing me...

Oh hang on...


That was my Uncle Jim.

False alarm, crack on.
Sounds like he did
 
I'm not saying it's aliens. And even if it is they are probably microbial. But . . .


It's an extraordinary possibility - the idea that living organisms are floating in the clouds of Planet Venus.
But this is what astronomers are now considering after detecting a gas in the atmosphere they can't explain.
That gas is phosphine - a molecule made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms.
On Earth, phosphine is associated with life, with microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins, or in oxygen-poor environments such as swamps.
For sure, you can make it industrially, but there are no factories on Venus; and there are certainly no penguins.
So why is this gas there, 50km up from the planet's surface? Prof Jane Greaves, from Cardiff University, UK and colleagues are asking just this question.

Full article: Is there life floating in the clouds of Venus?

I can't help thinking that there must be virtually ever compound imaginable in the superheated gaseous atmosphere of Venus but it's a start I suppose.
 
I'm not saying it's aliens. And even if it is they are probably microbial. But . . .


It's an extraordinary possibility - the idea that living organisms are floating in the clouds of Planet Venus.
But this is what astronomers are now considering after detecting a gas in the atmosphere they can't explain.
That gas is phosphine - a molecule made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms.
On Earth, phosphine is associated with life, with microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins, or in oxygen-poor environments such as swamps.
For sure, you can make it industrially, but there are no factories on Venus; and there are certainly no penguins.
So why is this gas there, 50km up from the planet's surface? Prof Jane Greaves, from Cardiff University, UK and colleagues are asking just this question.

Full article: Is there life floating in the clouds of Venus?

I can't help thinking that there must be virtually ever compound imaginable in the superheated gaseous atmosphere of Venus but it's a start I suppose.

A gas cloud; could the talk of alien life all just be hot air?

'An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes — floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine could point to such extra-terrestrial “aerial” life.

“When we got the first hints of phosphine in Venus’s spectrum, it was a shock!”, says team leader Jane Greaves of Cardiff University in the UK, who first spotted signs of phosphine in observations from the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), operated by the East Asian Observatory, in Hawaiʻi. Confirming their discovery required using 45 antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a more sensitive telescope in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner. Both facilities observed Venus at a wavelength of about 1 millimetre, much longer than the human eye can see — only telescopes at high altitude can detect it effectively.

'The international team, which includes researchers from the UK, US and Japan, estimates that phosphine exists in Venus’s clouds at a small concentration, only about twenty molecules in every billion. Following their observations, they ran calculations to see whether these amounts could come from natural non-biological processes on the planet. Some ideas included sunlight, minerals blown upwards from the surface, volcanoes, or lightning, but none of these could make anywhere near enough of it. These non-biological sources were found to make at most one ten thousandth of the amount of phosphine that the telescopes saw.'


 
If anyone is interested in a bit more information on the potential Venusian microbes, last night's The Sky At Night covered it in detail.

The programme was made a few weeks ago and embargoed up to yesterday. It has extensive interviews with Jane Greaves and a few of the other researchers involved.

If nothing else it is a good overview of how to do science. It didn't take them long on the radio telescopes to find phosphine (only an hour and a half on the ALMA telescope to confirm it and replicate the findings) but most of their work was spent on trying to prove they were wrong. They didn't.
 
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For anyone interested in the actual scientific paper it is here:

It's fairly heavy going and a fair amount of it went straight over my head with a whooshing sound. So here is the summary:

Even if confirmed, we emphasize that the detection of PH3 is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry. There are substantial conceptual problems for the idea of life in Venus’s clouds—the environment is extremely dehydrating as well as hyperacidic. However, we have ruled out many chemical routes to PH3, with the most likely ones falling short by four to eight orders of magnitude (Extended Data Fig. 10). To further discriminate between unknown photochemical and/or geological processes as the source of Venusian PH3, or to determine whether there is life in the clouds of Venus, substantial modelling and experimentation will be important. Ultimately, a solution could come from revisiting Venus for in situ measurements or aerosol return.

This is a big effort involving all manner of researchers from across the world (19 authors in total), two mulit-billion pound radio telescopes and a range of academic disciplines.

Good stuff all round.
 
Too much science. Not enough tin foil hattery.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
For anyone interested in the actual scientific paper it is here:

It's fairly heavy going and a fair amount of it went straight over my head with a whooshing sound. So here is the summary:

Even if confirmed, we emphasize that the detection of PH3 is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry. There are substantial conceptual problems for the idea of life in Venus’s clouds—the environment is extremely dehydrating as well as hyperacidic. However, we have ruled out many chemical routes to PH3, with the most likely ones falling short by four to eight orders of magnitude (Extended Data Fig. 10). To further discriminate between unknown photochemical and/or geological processes as the source of Venusian PH3, or to determine whether there is life in the clouds of Venus, substantial modelling and experimentation will be important. Ultimately, a solution could come from revisiting Venus for in situ measurements or aerosol return.

This is a big effort involving all manner of researchers from across the world (19 authors in total), two mulit-billion pound radio telescopes and a range of academic disciplines.

Good stuff all round.

well...no one thought volcanic vents at the very bottom of the seabed could be hosts to life, and they've turned out to be mini-oases supporting loads of different types of sea creature. so who knows? there's also organisms that thrive in the boiling hot springs in volcanically active areas. nature really does find a way it would seem.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
for something rather more overtly tinfoil hattery, the april fool mockumentary ( or **was** it?? ;) ) 'Alternative 3' has been put up on Amazon Prime.


'Purporting to be an investigation into the UK's contemporary "brain drain", Alternative 3 uncovered a plan to make the Moon and Mars habitable in the event of climate change and a terminal environmental catastrophe on Earth.'
 
well...no one thought volcanic vents at the very bottom of the seabed could be hosts to life, and they've turned out to be mini-oases supporting loads of different types of sea creature. so who knows? there's also organisms that thrive in the boiling hot springs in volcanically active areas. nature really does find a way it would seem.

Extremophiles.

Also found in a variety of extreme environments like the upper atmosphere (sound familiar?), mountain tops, ocean trenches, inside rocks deep underground, outer space etc.

Good quick read overview here: What Are Extremophiles?.

My favourite is the tardigrade. Little bastards live everywhere and don't GAF about where. They can survive extreme temperatures, extreme pressure (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, starvation and exposure to outer space (with UV protection).

Seriously ally little mites: Facts About Tardigrades.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
Extremophiles.

Also found in a variety of extreme environments like the upper atmosphere (sound familiar?), mountain tops, ocean trenches, inside rocks deep underground, outer space etc.

Good quick read overview here: What Are Extremophiles?.

My favourite is the tardigrade. Little bastards live everywhere and don't GAF about where. They can survive extreme temperatures, extreme pressure (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, starvation and exposure to outer space (with UV protection).

Seriously ally little mites: Facts About Tardigrades.

there's even a fungi munching away at the seriously hot stuff in the ruins of the Chernobyl NPP - Fungi That 'Eat' Radiation Are Growing on the Walls of Chernobyl's Ruined Nuclear Reactor | RealClearScience
 
well...no one thought volcanic vents at the very bottom of the seabed could be hosts to life, and they've turned out to be mini-oases supporting loads of different types of sea creature. so who knows? there's also organisms that thrive in the boiling hot springs in volcanically active areas. nature really does find a way it would seem.
Is that where @Bravo_Bravo lives?
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
well...no one thought volcanic vents at the very bottom of the seabed could be hosts to life, and they've turned out to be mini-oases supporting loads of different types of sea creature. so who knows? there's also organisms that thrive in the boiling hot springs in volcanically active areas. nature really does find a way it would seem.

Speaking of volcanic vents, I don't think I'd read anything about possible life on Enceladus previously.

'The Earth's biosphere contains all the known ingredients necessary for life as we know it. Broadly speaking these are: liquid water, at least one source of energy, and an inventory of biologically useful elements and molecules.

'But the recent discovery of possibly biogenic phosphine in the clouds of Venus reminds us that at least some of these ingredients exist elsewhere in the Solar System too. So where are the other most promising locations for extra-terrestrial life?'


 
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