The discovery in the cloud layers of Venus of a gas possibly signaling life, phosphine, was celebrated Monday by the boss of the US space agency, who said he now wants to give priority to the study of this planet, abandoned in favor of Mars.
“Of life on Venus? The discovery of phosphine, a by-product of anaerobic biology, is the most significant event to date in the search for life outside Earth, ”tweeted NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, reacting to the earlier publication. Monday of a study on the discovery by the journal Nature Astronomy.
“It’s time to prioritize Venus,” he also wrote.
Venus, particularly hostile because it is 470 ° C on the surface on average, was explored as early as the 1960s, but was quickly considered less scientifically interesting than Mars and outside the solar system. Several probes and robots are currently on their way to the Red Planet, but no mission specifically dedicated to Venus is underway.
But scientists have advocated for a few years a return to Venus, the brightest star in our night sky after the Moon, and several new missions have been proposed, NASA considering several.