Potential for Life on Venus Topic for Virtual Science Cafe

UM professor to discuss discovery of phosphine on shrouded planet during Oct. 20 event

Jennifer Meyer, UM instructional assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will discuss the discovery of chemicals that generally signal the presence of life in the atmosphere of Venus for this month’s Oxford Science Cafe. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The recent discovery of chemical compounds that may indicate the possibility of life in the atmosphere surrounding Venus is the topic for a virtual Oxford Science Cafe scheduled Tuesday (Oct. 20) by University of Mississippi event organizers.

The program is set for 6 p.m. on Zoom. Jennifer Meyer, instructional assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will discuss “The phosphine discovery in context of Venus’s more temperate past.”

“On Earth, phosphine is only created by biological and human-driven processes,” Meyer said. “Today, Venus seems very inhospitable to life, with surface temperatures above 800 F and sulfuric acid clouds. But it wasn’t always like that, which is why we are even discussing the possibility of life on Venus.”

Questions to be addressed during the 45-minute webcast include whether the detection of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere a sign of life living in the clouds.

“We’ll start with the history of Venus and its runaway greenhouse effect,” Meyer said.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also will stream a viewing of craters on the moon from the university’s Kennon Observatory, if weather conditions permit, said Sumeet Kulkami, physics graduate student and event organizer.

To view the Science Cafe livestream, go to https://olemiss.zoom.us/j/95192915706?pwd=Ris0MjNKQ2lkRlRaYlpXMHNsREx4Zz09. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit https://physics.olemiss.edu/.