A gas called Phosphine was just found on Venus. This is sparking a debate on whether this can be a sign of life beyond Earth in the same system.
What is Phosphine?
In short, phosphine is a flammable, colorless, and explosive gas that is super toxic to oxygen-reliant life forms. While different in chemical structure, it is similar to that of mustard gas, which is also colorless when pure, smells like garlic, and is deadly to life. Despite this, phosphine is often used in insecticides.
The reason why it is considered to be related to life on Venus is due to it mainly occurring as a result of organic decomposition. Some other scientists question this, thinking that it may have non-organic sources, especially on such a hot and deadly planet. That said, Phosphine has been a chemical that is gaining steam in the search for life on exoplanets.
The one thing that all scientists and researchers agree on is more studies need to be done. More research is needed to make sure that the gas is even present on Venus as well as to try to determine its potential origins. But what if life did exist there?
What would life be like on such a planet?
Life on Venus probably would not be too complex, given the environment that exists there. Venus is surrounded by clouds of choking sulfuric acid clouds and rain, an atmosphere of 97% carbon dioxide, and a surface temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius), which is hot enough to melt lead.
While nothing is likely to survive on the planet's volcanic and scorching surface, it may be able to survive in the clouds. The altitude between 51 km (65 °C) and 62 km (−20 °C) is considered to be the habitable zone of the planet.
Since these are clouds of sulfuric acid, one might believe it impossible for life to exist, but organisms here on earth have been found suited for such conditions. So if life exists on Venus, it would be microbial, similar to bacteria.