Most of what I read says there is not any phosphorus on Venus, which I take to mean none in the atmosphere or none detected. I mean, it gets hit by iron-nickel meteorites and probably has some apatite in the crust.

There are $CO_2$ soluble phosphorus compounds, like $PH_3$, which could be leached out of rocks by the near supercritical lower atmosphere moved around and redeposited.

I am just throwing some thinking at it; what do you, people in the know, know?


2 Answers 2


Yes, there is phosphorus on Venus, just like on Earth. The elemental composition is not that different. However, you can not find many phosphorus compounds in the atmosphere, due to few of them being gasses even at Venus high temperatures. The one you use as an example, Phosphine, suffers from the fact that Venus almost completely lacks hydrogen. Phosphine does also have a positive enthalpy of formation, making it even less likely to occur naturally.

On Earth, phosphorus is a lot more concentrated in a phosphorus cycle, due to the strange phenomenon life. The ratio between the concentration of phosphorus in living organisms and in the crust is one of the highest for any element (kind of making it a bottleneck resource). As far as we know, there is no life on Venus, so no such concentration has taken place.

Phosphorus exists on Venus, but it is a lot more scattered.


We may have to re-examine this question in light of the potential news of Phosphine detection in the Venus atmosphere. Maybe there is some odd chemistry happening on Venus that is generating Phosphine abiotically. This rumor would be very tantalizing information indeed. Already starting to think about what sort of experiment you'd want to do to determine if there is a biological cause on my next NASA proposal...


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