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Astronomers see possible hints of life in Venus's clouds

The northern hemisphere is displayed in this global view of the surface of Venus as seen by NASA Magellan spacecraft. The northern hemisphere is displayed in this global view of the surface of Venus as seen by NASA Magellan spacecraft. |  Photo: NASA/JPL, file

SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer
Created: September 14, 2020 03:25 PM

Astronomers looking at the atmosphere in neighboring Venus see something that might just be a sign of life. In a study published Monday, they say they found the chemical signature of a noxious gas called phosphine.

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On Earth, phosphine is associated with life. It's found at the bottom of ponds, in badger guts and in penguin guano.

Astronomers tried to figure out other, non-biological ways it could be produced and came up empty.

Outside experts — and the study authors themselves — say the research is tantalizing but not yet convincing.

LINK: Nature: Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus

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SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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