The discovery of a gas called phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere may be the strongest evidence yet that life exists away from our own planet.

Humankind has made some incredible steps forward over the course of the last 100 years. Thanks to advances in air travel and communications, the world now feels like a much smaller place, in a good way. However, there is still an infinite amount of space left for us to discover. The universe beyond what is, in the grand scheme of things, our own tiny planet.

The biggest question of all that humankind continues to strive to answer is if we are alone in this expansive universe. It seems insane to think that there really is no one else out there. What is probable is that the next closest form of life is a long, long way away. That’s why we are as surprised as anyone that there could well be life on Earth’s neighboring planet, Venus.

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Scientists have not found proof that there is life on Venus, far from it in fact. However, they have discovered something that they are currently unable to explain, reports The Independent. That there is a rare and toxic gas present in the Venusian atmosphere. Phosphine is a foul-smelling gas that can be found on Earth, but down here, it is created biologically and found in things like penguin droppings and pond slime.

Other than industrial processes, the only way scientists know that phosphine can be created is by anaerobic organisms. That’s why experts have been led to believe that it is these organisms that have created the gas on Venus. We say on Venus, the gas has actually been discovered 35 miles above the planet’s hellish surface.

The next step will hopefully be to send a spacecraft to Venus that will be able to return with a sample of the planet’s atmosphere. That might prove if there is life on Venus one way or the other. If there is, scientists are keen to know whether it shares the same DNA makeup as life on Earth. If it does, that might mean life was somehow transferred between the two planets. If not, it will seriously up the chances of life existing elsewhere.

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