Scientists synthesize a substance from Venus

Scientists have managed to synthesize a chemical component that absorbs ultraviolet light in the atmosphere of Venus. These are acidic iron-containing sulfate materials. They participate in the circulation of chemical elements in the atmosphere and on the surface of a neighboring planet. 

The clouds of Venus contain an exotic component. Source:

Chemistry of the atmosphere of Venus

What do the clouds of Venus consist of? Scientists know that they mainly consist of droplets of sulfuric acid, some water, chlorine and iron. Their concentration varies with altitude in the dense atmosphere of Venus. But until now, they could not identify a chemical component that would explain the spots and bands of clouds visible only in the ultraviolet range.

In a new study published in the journal Science Advances, scientists from the University of Cambridge synthesized iron-containing sulfate minerals resistant to the harsh chemical conditions of the clouds of Venus. 

Spectral analysis has shown that the combination of two minerals, rhomboclase and acidic ferric sulfate, can explain the mysterious feature of ultraviolet absorption on our neighboring planet. Based on data from the chemistry of the Venusian atmosphere, the team synthesized several iron-containing sulfate minerals in the Laboratory of Aquatic Geochemistry at the Faculty of Earth Sciences.

Scientists synthesized a mysterious component

By suspending synthesized materials in various concentrations of sulfuric acid and monitoring chemical and mineralogical changes, the team narrowed the range of candidate minerals to rhomboclase and acid ferric sulfate, the spectroscopic features of which were studied with light sources specially designed to simulate the spectrum of solar flares.

The Harvard University Photochemistry Laboratory also participated in the study, measuring the absorption spectra of ultraviolet iron radiation under extremely acidic conditions in an attempt to simulate the extreme clouds of Venus. 

“The patterns and level of absorption shown by the combination of these two mineral phases are consistent with the dark UV-patches observed in Venusian clouds,” said scientists. “These targeted experiments revealed the intricate chemical network within the atmosphere, and shed light on the elemental cycling on the Venusian surface.”

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