Why Astronomers Think A Poisonous Gas On Venus Could Suggest Life On This Deadly Planet.

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The surface of Venus is one of the least habitable places in the solar system but astronomers studying the planet have found a chemical in the upper atmosphere which they’ve been unable to explain by regular chemical processes.
This is a long way from proof that life exists on Venus, but, the astronomers have worked hard over the last 3 years to rule out more mundane explanations.
I won’t be surprised if someone else finds a less exciting explanation, but equally, I wouldn’t be entirely unsurprised if life found a way to persist in the atmosphere of Venus and remains there today.


  1. R4P70R

    We’ll get some images of Venus from Bepicolombo next months!
    Sadly no instruments are able to measure anything related to this discovery

  2. Guillaume Couture

    I love that insane Saturn V model in the background! Fly safe!

  3. Space Time

    Elon musk: I have found new love

  4. Wolf_Charmer

    Finally some attention on venus, my favorite planet

  5. Asger Vestbjerg

    Wow, just another mystery
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  6. Dabbing Kerbonaut

    Anything that convinces NASA to send a lander there would be great news. I want more Veneras….

  7. Kevin Miedema

    imagine if we confirmed life in our own backyard in a place we never ever expected.

  8. Matt

    That Saturn V model in the background brings a smile to my face.

  9. Kiko H

    It’s amazing that a couple of years ago I came to this channel looking to improve my novice Kerbal Space Program skills and since then i’ve learnt 100x more about space than I ever thought I would and am about to start a degree in aeronautical engineering in part because of the fascination this channel instilled.

  10. WanDeLay4

    Mmmmnf this is so delicious. Excellent work to the scientists who found these traces.

  11. mjproebstle

    never has science sounded so glamorous :)

    …words of truth yet again

  12. Kipper Klank

    Wasn’t there something about one of jupiters moons and it having a full “water cycle” but with methane and the like? I wonder of that would be an alternative solvent for life

  13. Guile Gamèche

    0:29 Would pure phosphine (PH3) really smell that, though, without the addition of diphosphine (P2H4)?

  14. Roberto Viti

    Read about this in the morning, kindly waiting for the explanation til now. Thanks Scott!!!

  15. Samathos

    One of the authors of the paper was the supervisor of my astrophysics Masters, nice!

  16. Voltikz

    Well I must say, the surface of venus sounds like a fun weekend 😬

  17. zidaryn

    Gotta remember: some.of the first life on Earth grew around volcano vents. There are some weird and pretty extreme versions of life on Earth.

  18. dfgdfg

    Insufficient Vespene Gas

  19. Jirka Svítil

    Sounds more like there is some sort of reaction that happends on Venus that we do not know, venus is really weird place so it would not be so weird

  20. Demon orb

    Professor Farnsworths smelloscope was used i bet!

  21. Gizmo Chipper

    I could imagine some kind of microscopic life with a protective cell wall that would keep it from dissolving in the acid

  22. bujin1977

    Interesting stuff, and good to see my old Physics & Astronomy department in Cardiff taking a leading role on it.

  23. Josef Krakel

    That Saturn 5 model is incredible

  24. Alonso Vm

    the title is incomplete, you should index “,for us at least” at the end.

  25. Tetsujin

    8:04 – Quick! Who are you, and what kind of vault should I buy to keep my pants zippers secure?

  26. McMurchie

    Wow, that’s quick!

  27. Peter Hobelsberger

    Thank you so much for the quick update, Scott! I absolutely admire your work.

  28. mediawolf

    6:21 broiled, crushed, asphyxiated and corroded at the same time

  29. Simon Woodson

    Think you might need to add “I survived” to that 2020 shirt

  30. Mark Hancock

    Great analysis. Life seems to like my keys. Often when I frustrated trying to find them, they end being in the location I figured they couldn’t be.
    Regarding the impossibility of Venus, I know Sulfuric Acid is highly reactive; but, are there ways to use that to out advantage for energy generation and/or cooling? I know Sulfuric Acid is a key component of Lead Acid batteries and I seem to recall reading about a Sulfuric Acid based fuel cell. Could we create a lander or orbiter that is fueled off of Sulfuric Acid? Also, is there a way life could live off Sulfuric Acid?

  31. OttogiCurry

    The fly safe on this one felt more like a command than a recommendation lol

  32. Dino Schachten

    That sounds amazing! I’d love to see some Venusian atmosphere samples collected! :)

  33. Ricard Miras

    Observation: I can see phosphine. Conclusion: Dinosaurs.

  34. Sausprem

    “Never has science truly sounded so glamorous” creating gold from golden showers.

  35. Echo

    7:22 or the life that seeded the earth initially was also seeidng venus at the same time.

  36. Adam Lytle

    I’d be in favour of an atmospheric probe of Venus just get some high res photos.

  37. FandersonUfo

    some very tough bugs living on Venus

  38. King of Dongles

    “Consistent with …” is such a great subtle science term for being careful with your words.

  39. Andi Mason

    The concept of life somehow finding a way to keep going in venus’s clouds using the tiny amount of water and resources available is fascinating. It’s certainly a testament to just how enduring and resilient life can be.

  40. Tetsujin

    It’s good to know that future interplanetary expeditions will be able to visit Venus to replenish their depleted garlic supply

  41. Benjamin O.

    either it’s new chemistry or it’s life, either way it’s exciting

  42. Fuzzy Electronics

    If aliens detected one of my Sunday morning farts they would assume life on Earth couldn’t possibly exist.

  43. Joshua Goldstein

    I’ve always found panspermia interesting in the “Yeah, it’s really hard to rule out that this happened” sense.

  44. Rocco V

    I’m so happy for this news. I’ve been a proponent for Venus missions for ages. I think it’s inevitable now that we will get more Venus missions. to settle the question if there is life on Venus.

  45. luckydog789


  46. Norman M.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if life is incredibly common throughout the universe, springing up whenever the most basic conditions allow for it. With all of the recent discoveries of extremophiles capable of living in the most inhospitable environments on Earth, life in the acidic clouds of Venus doesn’t seem so far fetched.

    “Life, uh, finds a way”
    -Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)

  47. MathematicsStudent

    Scott Manley out of context: “On Venus, the pressures aren’t high enough”

  48. Jason Young

    Breaking new: Industry on Venus!

  49. Zod

    It’s 2020 on the surface of Venus every year.

  50. Artemis Fowl

    Perhaps could this have been carried over on the landers the Soviets sent over?

  51. John Rivers

    Oh hey, i was just watching Interstellar quest.

  52. Ricky Singleton

    Saw your Twitter about this and was wondering when you could get a video out. It was pretty fast. Thanks for the information.

  53. David Holcomb

    The scariest thing aliens could tell us when we try to communicate with them : “Shhh! They’ll hear you.”

  54. Sebastian Niedbala

    @Scott Manley: Audio is a little bit wonky in today’s video.. for a moment I thought it’s on my end but it’s not… ok now back to watching…

  55. Kerbulex

    Wow. Just wow.

  56. likhith kumar

    I could imagine Memers getting sad cuz the alien life they imagined and the alien life that they r about to see will make them go crazy and flood the internet with Venus alien memes🤣🤣

  57. the1andonlySherlock

    I’ve always thought the “IT MUST HAVE LIQUID WATER AND OXYGEN” assumption about extraterrestrial life to be such a narrowminded assumption. If life is as adaptable as it appears to be, there’s no reason we should recognize it right away on another celestial body.

  58. Ben Lewis

    To be fair to Venus in most places on Earth you would be crushed and suffocated by the ocean, even assuming you somehow survived that you would probably die of hypothermia.

  59. QuasiRandomViewer

    2:07 “But on Venus, the pressures aren’t high enough.”
    Taken out of context, that sounds like crazy talk.

  60. Patrick Allen

    Boiling down urine to made gold, are you taking the…? ;)

  61. Jerry Rupprecht

    Not to be confused with phosgene, a completely different toxic gas.

  62. Junk Mail

    broiled crushed asphyxiated and corroded, 06:24 at the same time.”
    So I assume it would be quite understandable for one to turn down an out-of-doors dinner invitation on Venus. Sorry, thought just tickled me to death. :-) ;-) :-)
    Just now 20200914 at 5 o’clock EST (17 : 11 UTC) TV Channel WLIW reported the presence of phosphine or phosphate in the Venutian atmosphere, Having seen your video.I felt so informed. THNX

  63. Liam R

    They should make a song about that, you know?
    “Is there life on veeeenus!!!”

  64. The Monolith

    I see they didn’t consider the proto-molecule! School boy error I think …

  65. Sigurd Stapnes

    “Broiled, crushed, asphyxiated and corroded at the same time”
    That’s how I take my steak.

  66. Amaar Quadri

    Astrobiology is hard. What could we discover about the atmosphere of a distant exoplanet that would convince us off the presence of life as opposed to some unknown geological process?

  67. Ace Lightning

    I miss the old SF imagery of Venus as a cloud-shrouded swamp…
    “We rot in the molds of venus,
    We retch at her tainted breath;
    Foul are her flooded jungles,
    Crawling with unclean death…”

  68. Super Cat Elvis

    Now this is exciting news, hope there is life there, also of theirs life on Venus I’m pretty sure it can be anywhere

  69. Marian Bobrik

    “Information is lacking—as an example, the photochemistry of Venusian cloud droplets is almost completely unknown. ”
    But and at the same time we can reasonably assume there got to be a photochemical step involved.
    “PH3 is detected most strongly at mid-latitudes and is not detected at the poles (Table 1). The equatorial zone appears to absorb more weakly than mid-latitudes, but equatorial and mid-latitude values could agree if corrections are made for spatial filtering.

  70. TheDistortion

    unofficial t-shirt hint

  71. Daniel Moolman

    Fools. It’s the Protomolecule.

  72. Captain Sovereign

    It’s the goddamn protomolecule…

  73. Je1lyb0nes

    Breaking: Coronavirus found on venus despite extreme social distancing measures…

  74. Martí PG

    “never has science sounded so glamorous” LMAOOO

  75. CocoaButt

    Have you had any luck becoming a tech advisor for Hollywood?

    Right now someone could be working on a story about astronauts being broiled, crushed, asphyxiated and corroded by phosphorus aliens.

  76. Lithostheory

    I remember seeing the proposal abstract on the ALMA archive and have been waiting in anticipation for the results for a while :^D

    The data actually became public before this publication, but I wasn’t able to find the line. However, if you read the paper you can see that they needed to do some extensive data reduction for a usable result so it’s not surprising that I didn’t see it.

  77. Automatiic

    Imagine if we introduced life to Venus with our spacecraft lmao

  78. Half-Life: 3

    I first heard of this on the Endless Space discord – they even posted a link to the Astronomical society meeting or something

  79. Willis _

    It’s clearly the protomolecule building a ring, I say we leave it alone

  80. Richard

    They say.
    “It’s never aliens until it’s aliens”.
    With other words, until we have a picture of a living organism, it will always be possible life.
    Nevertheless, very exciting, and perhaps a restart in the venus exploration.

  81. little special child

    Meanwhile on Venus

    “Scientists say life could be possible on earth, an oxygen poisoned life”

  82. Ipds70GltR

    I was on the Press release!

  83. BadMoodBread

    “… you will be broiled, crushed, asphyxiated and corroded at the same time.”

    @bigclivedotcom’s voice from background:


  84. holytape

    Was waiting for you to cover these news

  85. Ben Sheaves

    4:50 I would argue 20 ppb for phosphine in an atmosphere is actually a lot

  86. Rick Farwell

    “You require more vespene gas!”

  87. ye ye

    Deadly for humans but not deadly for all possible life

  88. Trattore Trattore

    Shoutout to the absolutely amazing life that might be producing Phospine as we speak. If you exist, great job surviving there. It would be really cool to confirm your existence. Thank you Scott for this cool eye-opening video

  89. David Renton

    6:59 one of the Authors is “M Way” , is that one of the most Astronomical names out there, just call me Milky.

  90. Dmytro Picky

    4:26 if you thought your school chemistry was hard)

  91. Pronto

    Scott: “Is there life on Venus?”
    Steve Zodiac: “Do you want to see the pictures?”

  92. Tyler van de Ven

    Even if it does turn out to be microbial life… Showing that some kind of life can not only exist, but thrive in those conditions would mean we have to rethink what life on other planets may look like as well as what planets could support life of some kind. There’s been a lot of work done now that has deviated from the traditional “Life requries water, oxygen and particular temperatures to exist” line of thinking and that’s exciting. Always figured there had to be some kind of life on another planet/moon in the solar system… But not gonna lie, Venus has to be one of the last places I expected.

  93. Shiloh Slim

    I for one welcome our phosphine producing overlords

  94. Mr.Far3ll

    Thanks for not using clickbait titles like “WE HAVE FOUND LIFE ON VENUS” We can always count on you Scott :)

  95. Tony Bologna

    Life on Venus is fascinating – but the real question is did you get gold in the close your rings challenge?

  96. Aubrey Freeman

    Time for Rocket Lab to send a Venus probe to study that Protomolecule

  97. Tom Smith

    From what I’ve read, they were looking at the spectra of Venus specifically because they thought there was no chance for life, and thus it would make a good baseline to compare exo-planets to.
    Then they found much more phosphine than ‘should’ have been there, and have spent the last three years trying to find any other explanation.
    (There’s a special episode of The Sky at Night this evening in the UK which should have much more information. Good old BBC Four)

  98. Vision Thing

    They say there’s a ‘possibility’ of life in our Parliament as well. So, given the toxicity of the atmosphere there, why not life on Venus which is significantly less hostile towards life?

  99. Gimmick Account

    “…assuming you could, say, borrow the James Webb Telescope when it was launched…”

    By that time, life on Venus will have evolved to the point where you would get better results by just asking them politely to edit their Wikipedia article with the pertinent info.

  100. FesixGermany

    Broiled, crushed, asphyxiated and corroded at the same time sounds wonderful.

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