Volume 649, May 2021
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||30 April 2021|
Letter to the Editor
Upper limits for phosphine (PH3) in the atmosphere of Mars
Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
2 Space Research Institute (IKI), Moscow, Russia
3 Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS/CNRS), Paris, France
4 School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Accepted: 13 April 2021
Phosphine (PH3) is proposed to be a possible biomarker in planetary atmospheres and has been claimed to have been observed in the atmosphere of Venus, sparking interest in the habitability of Venus’s atmosphere. Observations of another biomarker, methane (CH4), have been reported several times in the atmosphere of Mars, hinting at the possibility of a past or present biosphere. The Atmospheric Chemistry Suite on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has a spectral range that includes several absorption lines of PH3 with line strengths comparable to previously observed CH4 lines. The signature of PH3 was not observed in the 192 observations made over a full Martian year of observations, and here we report upper limits of 0.1–0.6 ppbv.
Key words: planets and satellites: atmospheres / planets and satellites: composition / planets and satellites: terrestrial planets / planets and satellites: detection
© ESO 2021
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