Is there life on Venus?

An article published in Nature Astronomy on Monday has led to much speculation about the presence of life on Venus, following the discovery of phosphine gas in Venus’ atmosphere.

Nature in Astronomy Venus article

On Earth this gas is usually produced by microbial life, and could point to an unknown life form in the clouds surrounding Venus.

This needs more investigation – and indeed the European Space Agency are planning just such a mission in 2032 using Ariane to launch EnVision, a low altitude polar orbiter.

EnVision mission

The current launch date is set for 24 November 2032 from the European Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana.

Interestingly, all the features on Venus have been given women’s names, with the three major landmasses named after Aphrodite, Ishtar and Lada, the Greek, Babylonian and Slavic goddesses of love. For a full list of names, look here:

Names of features on Venus