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See Mercury and Venus in the predawn sky this week

This sky map shows where to see Mercury and Venus before sunrise on Nov. 12, 2020. (Image credit: SkySafari/Simulation Curriculum)

The two “inferior” planets are teaming up with the moon and one of the brightest stars in the sky to put on a lovely show in the predawn morning skies of Thursday and Friday (Nov. 12-13). Planets that move in orbits that are closer to the sun than Earth are “inferior” planets and there are only two, Mercury and Venus. 

Venus is, by far, the most brilliant planet and is also the easiest one to see. Mercury on the other hand, is the planet closest to the sun and as such its visibility is more fleeting, partly because it is often hidden in the bright solar glare and also because it usually appears at a rather low altitude relative to the horizon. But this month marks Mercury’s finest morning apparition

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Not finding life on Venus would be disappointing. But it’s good science at work

Repetition, repetition

The truth is, the story of Venus’s putative phosphine is not a simple case of a sensational finding being shot down upon further scrutiny. In fact, the rush of follow-up research is welcomed; science is doing its thing. This is especially true when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial life—after all, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

“I think this is a perfect example of how the scientific process works,” says Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University, who also wasn’t involved in the studies. “It certainly makes sense that there would be other studies that would try and get at this question.”

The first preprint paper to cast doubt on the original was actually written in part by Greaves herself. After failing to secure more time on telescopes to verify her team’s initial finding—the pandemic has made telescope access difficult and in some cases

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Gaseous signs of life on Venus aren’t seen in follow-up observations

Venus
Venus

Computer illustration of a view across the rocky surface of the planet Venus, showing clouds of sulphuric acid obscuring the Sun. Getty Images

This article originally appeared here on Salon.com

Last month, the science world was stunned and excited when Nature Astronomy published a paper indicating that the atmosphere of Venus appeared to contain trace amounts of phosphine, a gas associated with anaerobic bacteria on Earth that would be near-impossible to produce in any other fashion on Venus. If other scientific studies continued to confirm the report’s findings, that could mean that there is life in Venus’ clouds.

Now, two subsequent scientific investigations question the evidence on whether phosphine — and perhaps life — resides in the Venusian atmosphere. 

Scientists study the Venusian atmosphere by analyzing spectra, or plots of light emanating from the planet, and analyzing the wavelengths. Because different molecules produce different wavelengths when light shines through

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Venus Is Dead! New Analysis Shows Phosphine, A Possible Biosignature, Is Absent

In one of the biggest surprises in the history of planetary science, a September 2020 study announced the presence of phosphine gas in Venus’s cloud decks: a tantalizing hint that could be due to biological processes. Phosphine (PH3), which is chemically similar to ammonia (NH3) except with phosphorus standing in for nitrogen, is only produced naturally on Earth by biochemical processes, but was claimed to exist on Venus at the 20 parts-per-billion level. With two separate observatories

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BepiColombo Snaps Incredible Venus Images

  • On October 15, the ESA/JAXA spacecraft BepiColombo swung by Venus, gathering critical data and snapping some incredible photos.
  • This week’s close approach was the first of two Venus flybys the spacecraft will make before reaching Mercury in 2025.
  • The ESA and JAXA launched BepiColombo—Europe’s first mission to Mercury—in October 2018.

    In October 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched BepiColombo, Europe’s inaugural mission to Mercury. But before the spacecraft can get to the first planet, it’s taking a scenic Venusian detour.

    🌌 You like badass space stuff. So do we. Let’s explore the universe together.

    This week, BepiColombo swung past Venus and snapped a handful of incredible images of the gas-shrouded world. It’s the first of two scheduled flybys of Venus. Taking the long way ’round, so to speak, capitalizes on the planet’s gravitation pull in an effort to save fuel on the journey

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    Astonishing New Images Show Venus Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

    From Popular Mechanics

    • On October 15, the ESA/JAXA spacecraft BepiColombo swung by Venus, gathering critical data and snapping some incredible photos.

    • This week’s close approach was the first of two Venus flybys the spacecraft will make before reaching Mercury in 2025.

    • The ESA and JAXA launched BepiColombo—Europe’s first mission to Mercury—in October 2018.

    In October 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched BepiColombo, Europe’s inaugural mission to Mercury. But before the spacecraft can get to the first planet, it’s taking a scenic Venusian detour.

    🌌 You like badass space stuff. So do we. Let’s explore the universe together.

    This week, BepiColombo swung past Venus and snapped a handful of incredible images of the gas-shrouded world. It’s the first of two scheduled flybys of Venus. Taking the long way ’round, so to speak, capitalizes on the planet’s gravitation pull in an effort to save fuel

    Read More

    A spacecraft en route to Mercury just caught this fresh new look at Venus

    BepiColombo, a Mercury-bound mission jointly run by the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is snapping up a wealth of new images and collecting some new data that may tease out new clues about the Venusian atmosphere—and whether it could be home to extraterrestrial life.

    What happened: On Thursday morning, as part of a long journey to Mercury, BepiColombo made a close pass of Venus at a distance of about 6,660 miles. The flyby is meant to use Venus’s gravity as a speed-reducing force to adjust the trajectory of the spacecraft on to its eventual destination. 

    Hype of life: Although the flyby was planned for maneuvering purposes, it afforded scientists an opportunity for a closer look at Venus. The interest around the flyby is bigger since last month’s revelations that Venus’s clouds contain phosphine, a possible sign that there is biological activity on the planet. If

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    Is There Life On Venus? ESA Rocket To Skim Planet For Signs Of Life

    KEY POINTS

    • Phosphine has been found in the clouds of Venus
    • The discovery has led scientists to look more into Venus and its atmosphere
    • BepiColombo will make its first close approach with Venus on Oct. 14

    It was only a month ago when scientists discovered phosphine was present in the clouds on Venus — an indicator that there may be life on the planet. Luckily, BepiColombo will be flying by the Earth’s sister planet this Wednesday, Oct. 14 — giving scientists a chance to confirm if these observations are due to possible lifeforms on the planet.

    When the subject of Venus comes up in a conversation, it is almost inevitable to bring up its extreme temperatures, toxic gases and dangerously crushing air pressure. A recent discovery of the presence of phosphine on the planet’s clouds has led scientists and researchers to think about the possibility of life on Venus, according

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    Spacecraft Flies Past Venus En Route To Mercury, But Did It Find Signs Of Life In The Atmosphere?

    Europe and Japan’s BepiColombo spacecraft has successfully completed a flyby of Venus on its way to Mercury – which included an effort to look for phosphine, a possible biosignature, in the atmosphere.

    Overnight at 11:58pm Eastern Time yesterday, October 14, the spacecraft flew 10,720 kilometers above the surface of Venus. The flyby is one of several being used to slow the spacecraft so it can enter orbit around our Solar System’s innermost planet, Mercury, in late 2025.

    While the flyby is predominantly designed for trajectory reasons, it was also an opportunity for the mission teams to test their instruments and cameras. This included taking images of Venus, and more excitingly, using an instrument to look for possible signs of life in the atmosphere of the planet.

    Last month, scientists announced the possible discovery of phosphine on

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