Issue Date: October 17, 2011
Venus Has A Thin Ozone Layer
Results from the European Space Agency’s spacecraft show that the second planet from the sun has a thin ozone layer high above its surface. Until now, only Earth and Mars were known to have ozone layers. The results were presented earlier this month at a joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, which was held in Nantes, France. Venus’ ozone layer, like that of Mars, is very thin compared with Earth’s. Scientists have pondered the source of planetary ozone layers, knowing in the case of Earth that ozone has been produced from oxygen emitted by microbes and plants. However, Venus’ ozone layer is 100 to 1,000 times thinner and four times higher than Earth’s—far too tenuous to be produced biologically. In the case of Venus and Mars, it’s believed ozone is formed during the photochemical breakup of CO2 molecules. “This ozone detection tells us a lot about the circulation and the chemistry of Venus’ atmosphere,” Håkan Svedhem, project scientist for the Venus Express mission, said in a press release.
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