Aliens ‘unlike anything we’ve seen’ may be hiding in the clouds of Venus and producing ammonia, according to researchers.
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, and its presence could be a sign that chemical reactions are taking place that would make Venus more habitable to alien life.
On Earth, ammonia is leftover waste from aquatic organisms, so its presence in Venus’s upper atmosphere has stumped astronomers since the 1970s.
Venus is considered to be so hot that it cannot sustain life, and if there is life on the planet’s clouds, it may be in the form of microbes that are unlike those on our own planet.
A study by researchers at Cardiff University, MIT and Cambridge University found that if ammonia exists on the planet, it would set in motion chemical reactions that would neutralise drops of sulfuric acid in the surrounding area.
If this is the case, the acidity of the clouds would drop from -11 to zero, which is still acidic but may be able to tolerate life.
Dr William Bains, co-author of the study, said:
We know that life can grow in acid environments on Earth, but nothing as acid as the clouds of Venus were believed to be. But if something is making ammonia in the clouds, then that will neutralise some of the droplets, making them potentially more habitable.
That ‘something’ creating ammonia is what researchers suggest could’ve been made by a biological source.
Professor Sara Seager, another co-author, said that ‘ammonia shouldn’t be on Venus’ and that ‘in the context of its environment is automatically suspicious for being made by life’.
While we may not have found life on Mars yet, Venus might surprise us.
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