New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: A recent study speculating the presence of life on Earth’s planetary neighbour Venus has led NASA planning two space missions to determine whether or not that harbours life.

From the four proposals under review, the US space agency is planning to approve two science missions by April next year.

This comes after an international team of astronomers claimed to have found traces of phosphine, a rare molecule, in the atmosphere of Venus. On Earth, the phosphine gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.

The study, published in a new paper in the journal Nature Astronomy, said that for decades high clouds in Venus could offer a home for microbes which can tolerate the very high acidity in the planet’s atmosphere. The astronomers said that the detection of the phosphine gas could point towards an extra-terrestrial aerial life.

According to a report published in Reuters, the US agency in February shortlisted four proposed missions that are now being reviewed by a NASA panel, two of which would involve robotic probes to Venus. One of those, called DAVINCI+, would send a probe into the Venusian atmosphere.

“Davinci is the logical one to choose if you’re motivated in part by wanting to follow this up - because the way to follow this up is to actually go there and see what’s going on in the atmosphere,” David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist working on the DAVINCI+ proposal, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The three other proposals proposed by NASA include IVO, a mission to Jupiter’s volcanically active moon Io; Trident, a fly-by trek to map Neptune’s icy moon Triton; and VERITAS. According to the reports, NASA may choose one or two missions to identify the geology on the planet.

Earlier, NASA scientists were focusing on Moon and Mars to find out full-fledged life on these celestial bodies. But, the search for life on the different planets in the solar system now seems possible.

“The selection process should be responsive to recent scientific discoveries. If there was a mission to Triton as a finalist, and then somebody with a telescope observed, you know, a soccer stadium on Triton, then arguably yeah, we should send a mission there,” Reuters quoted Grinspoon, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute as saying.

Posted By: Srishti Goel