The Real SETI Signal: Not a Message, but a Molecule

Life on Venus? That outrageous-sounding possibility understandably made headlines a couple weeks ago. In part, the news grabbed people’s attention because Venus seems like such an unlikely place to find anything alive. The surface temperature there averages 460 degrees C, and the pressure at sea level is a crushing 93 times the atmospheric pressure on Earth–except, of course, there is no actual sea on Venus.

There was another startling aspect of the life-on-Venus story, however: the nature of the evidence itself. There are no rovers rolling across Venus. We do not have any samples of Venusian rocks to put under the microscope. The search for life was conducted from afar using radio telescopes, and the hints of life came in the form of an extremely slight radio shadow indicating the presence of an obscure molecule known as phosphine.

Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales, and her colleagues used the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and the ALMA radio observatory in Chile to scan for phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere. To their surprise and delight, the found the signal they were looking for.

Phosphine on Venus??

What is a biosignal. Challenge of identifying.

Biosignals on Mars? Dunno. Venus, Enceladus, Europa? Really dunno.

What about exoplanets? Could be life everywhere.

Will end up with a future full of odds-makers & no answers.

May have to settle for the statistics.

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