From Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA is considering approving by next April two planetary scientific missions of four proposals under consideration, including one to Venus, which scientists say could help determine if the planet is alive.
On Monday, an international research team described evidence of potential microbes living in raw acidic Venus clouds: traces of phosphine, a gas produced on Earth by bacteria inhabiting an oxygen-free environment. He provided serious potential evidence for extraterrestrial life.
The US space agency selected four proposed missions in February, which are now being considered by a NASA panel, two of which will include robotic probes to Venus. One of them, called DAVINCI +, will send a probe into the Venusian atmosphere.
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The other three proposals include: IVO, a mission to the volcanically active moon of Jupiter Io; Trident, a flying transition to map the icy moon of Neptune Triton; and VERITAS, the second of Venus’ proposed missions, which will instead focus on understanding the geological history of the planet. NASA has said it can choose one or two missions.
The search for life elsewhere in the solar system has so far not focused on Venus. In fact, NASA launched a next-generation rover in July to look for traces of potential past life on Mars.
In light of Monday’s findings, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said it was “time to prioritize Venus.” In a statement, Bridenstine said the process of selecting new potential missions would be difficult, “but I know the process will be fair and impartial.”
Greenspoon, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said the selection process should be in line with the latest scientific findings.
“If there was a mission to Triton as a finalist, and then someone with a telescope was watching, you know, Triton’s football stadium, then maybe, we should send a mission there,” Greenspoon said.
(Report by Joey Roulette; Edited by Will Dunham)