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Recovery of Phosphine in Venus' Atmosphere from SOFIA Observations
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  • Jane Greaves,
  • Janusz Jurand Petkowski,
  • Anita M S Richards,
  • Clara Sousa-Silva,
  • Sara Seager,
  • David L Clements
Jane Greaves
Cardiff University

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Janusz Jurand Petkowski
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Anita M S Richards
JodrellBank Centre for Astrophysics
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Clara Sousa-Silva
Bard College
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Sara Seager
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David L Clements
Imperial College
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Searches for phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere have sparked a debate. Cordiner et al. 2022 analyse spectra from the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and infer <0.8 ppb of PH3. We noticed that spectral artefacts arose mainly from inessential calibration-load signals. By-passing these signals allows simpler post-processing, and 6.5σ detection of 1 ppb of PH3 at ~75 km altitude (just above the clouds). Compiling six phosphine results would suggest the abundance inverts: decreasing above the clouds but rising again in the mesosphere from some unexplained source. However, no such extra source is needed if phosphine is undergoing destruction by sunlight (photolysis), as it does on Earth. Low values/limits were found where the viewed part of the super-rotating Venusian atmosphere had passed through sunlight, while the high values are from views moving into sunlight. We suggest Venusian phosphine is indeed present, and so merits further work on models of its origins.