To understand signs of life on Venus we must do chemistry on Earth

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POSSIBLE signs of life have been glimpsed in Venus’s atmosphere, but there is a significant amount of work required to confirm this unexpected finding before we can dive deeper into what it means.

On 14 September, a team announced that it had seen what appears to be phosphine gas in the Venusian atmosphere. On Earth, phosphine is only produced by living organisms or in industrial processes, and the researchers couldn’t identify any way to make as much of the gas as they spotted on Venus through any known non-biological process. Phosphine is expected to be destroyed quickly in conditions like …