Our minds were blown yesterday as a team of researchers reported on the discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus—a potential sign of life. The discovery will undoubtedly renew scientific interest in our closest planetary neighbor. Here’s what should happen next, and how scientists could confirm—or deny—the presence of life within the Venusian clouds.
Phosphine, a flammable gas typically associated with stinky swamps and penguin guano, is not something astrobiologists tend to focus on in their ongoing hunt for extraterrestrial life. That changed yesterday, owing to a new