Upper limits for phosphine (PH3) in the atmosphere of Mars

Olsen, K. S.; Trokhimovskiy, A.; Braude, A. S.; Korablev, O.; Fedorova, A.; Wilson, C.F.; Patel, M. R.; Irwin, P. G. J.; Montmessin, F.; Lefevre, F.; Baggio, L.; Alday, J.; Belyaev, D. A.; Patrakeev, A. and Shakun, A. (2021). Upper limits for phosphine (PH3) in the atmosphere of Mars. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 649, article no. L1.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202140868


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.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions