Days after scientists found that there may potentially be aliens on Earth's closest neighbor Venus, Russia has claimed autonomy on the planet.
Russian space agency chief, Dmitry Rogozin, called Venus a “Russian planet” at an industry exhibition taking place in Moscow.
"Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus,” The Moscow Times quoted said Rogozin saying.
Rogozin was referring to the country’s successful explorations of Venus in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
"The Russian spacecraft gathered information about the planet — it is like hell over there," he added.
Rogozin also announced plans to launch an independent Russian expedition to Venus "without involving wide international cooperation."
The expedition will take place in addition to the previously planned Venera-D mission, which is being carried out in cooperation with the United States.
In a release, the space agency also added that "The USSR was the only country to conduct regular explorations of Venus using on-planet stations. The first ever soft landing on another planet’s surface in the Solar system was performed in 1970 by the Venera-7 descent module. Several orbital missions and landings provided detailed data on the Venerian climate, soil and atmosphere composition. The Soviet Venera-13 spacecraft still holds the record as the longest active spacecraft on Venus remaining operational for 127 minutes."
"Discovering chemical substances as possible chemical markers of life existence in Venus’s atmosphere via remote astronomical observations cannot be considered objective evidence of life existence on the planet," says Roscosmos Executive Director for Science and Advanced Programs Alexander Bloshenko.
"Credible scientific data on that matter can be obtained only via contact explorations of the planet’s surface and atmosphere," he added.
Scientists Monday revealed that they have detected a gas called phosphine in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus. The presence of phosphine indicates that microbes may inhabit Earth’s inhospitable neighbor, a tantalizing sign of potential life beyond Earth.
The researchers did not discover actual life forms, but explained that on Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments. The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile.
“I was very surprised - stunned, in fact,” astronomer Jane Greaves told Reuters of Cardiff University in Wales, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The existence of extraterrestrial life long has been one of the paramount questions of science. Scientists have used probes and telescopes to seek “biosignatures” - indirect signs of life - on other planets and moons in our solar system and beyond.
“With what we currently know of Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine, as fantastical as it might sound, is life,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology molecular astrophysicist and study co-author Clara Sousa-Silva.
“I should emphasize that life, as an explanation for our discovery, should be, as always, the last resort,” Sousa-Silva added. “This is important because, if it is phosphine, and if it is life, it means that we are not alone. It also means that life itself must be very common, and there must be many other inhabited planets throughout our galaxy.”