What is Phosphine?

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Recently, scientists have detected phosphine at a deeper level in Venus' atmosphere than before using the James Clark Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) at Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii.

About Phosphine: 


  • Phosphine on Earth is developed naturally by bacteria that live in very low-oxygen environments.
  • To produce phosphine, Earth bacteria take up phosphate from minerals or biological material and add hydrogen.
  • It is also called as hydrogen phosphide.
  • Properties
    • It is a colourless, flammable, extremely toxic gas with a disagreeable garlic like odour.
    • It is formed by the action of a strong base or hot water on white phosphorus or by the reaction of water with calcium phosphide (Ca3P2).
    • It is structurally similar to ammonia (NH3), but phosphine is a much poorer solvent than ammonia and is much less soluble in water.
  • Uses of Phosphine
    • It is used in semiconductor and plastics industries, in the production of a flame retardant, and as a pesticide in stored grain.


Key facts about Venus

  • It is Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.
  • Similar in structure but slightly smaller than Earth, it is the second planet from the sun.
  • It is wrapped in a thick, toxic atmosphere that traps in heat.
  • Its surface temperatures reach a scorching 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius).
  • It rotates very slowly on its axis – one day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days.
  • Unlike the other planets in our solar system, Venus spins clockwise on its axis.


Q1) What is Phosphate?

Phosphate is the natural source of phosphorous, an element that provides a quarter of all the nutrients that plants need for their growth and development.

Source: Life on  Venus? Here's what new evidence of phosphine in clouds indicates