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EXPLAINED: LIFE ON VENUS? THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LATEST DISCOVERY

EXPLAINED: LIFE ON VENUS? THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LATEST DISCOVERY

Context

The Phosphine gas has been discovered  in the atmosphere of Venus.

About Venus

  • It is the second closest planet to the sun in the Solar system.
  • It is also often referred to as Earth's twin as  its size and shape are very much similar to that of the earth.
  • It has no satellite.
  • Due to closeness with the Sun it is the hottest planet in the solar system with surface temperatures being above 460° Celsius.
  • It has a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide which is said to be causing the heating of Venus.
  • The presence of sulphuric acid in the atmosphere of Venus makes it a highly corrosive environment.
  • It orbits the Sun every 224.7 Earth days.
  • With a rotation period of 243 Earth days, it takes longer to rotate about its axis than any other planet in the Solar System and does so in the opposite direction to all but Uranus (meaning the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east).

About Phosphine

  • It is a compound of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms, and has been discovered in Venus’s atmosphere.
  • In 2017, it was first identified in Venus’s atmosphere through the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii.
  • It gets oxidized in an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide and hence should be short lived in Venus’s atmosphere.

Uses of Phosphine Gas

  • It is used in the semiconductor industry to introduce phosphorus into silicon crystals.
  • It is also used as a fumigant, a polymerization initiator and as an intermediate for the preparation of several flame retardants.
  • It has an odor of garlic or decaying fish but is odorless when pure.

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