Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

A day after researchers spoke about the possibility of microbial life in the atmosphere of Venus, Russia seems to be laying claim to the planet itself. We're not sure if the official in question was speaking in hyperbole.

On Monday, scientists had announced the the discovery of a rare molecule -- phosphine -- in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, phosphine gas is only made industrially, or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments, according to the researchers, including those from the Cardiff University in the UK. The detection of phosphine molecules, which consist of hydrogen and phosphorus, could point to this extra-terrestrial 'aerial' life, according to the research published in the journal in Nature Astronomy.

But on Tuesday, reports quoted Director General of Russia's Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, to say that the country would be launching its own expedition to the neighbouring planet, "without involving wide international cooperation". Alongside, Rogozin referred to Venus as the "Rusian planet", nothing that the country had been the first to land on it.

Citing earlier research, he said that the planet had been believed to be inhospitable to life. "“Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus. The [Russian] spacecraft gathered information about the planet — it is like hell over there," he was quoted as saying.

Russia had indeed been the first to land on the planet -- first with a crash landing in 1966, followed by the Venera 7 landing successfully in December, 1970. However, they are not the only country that have till date managed to reach Venus. In 1978, one of the probes deployed by the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe managed to survive its descent to the surface and had transmitted data from the surface for about an hour.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in