Venus Lower Atmospheric Composition: Preliminary Results from Pioneer Venus

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Science  23 Feb 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4382, pp. 800-802
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4382.800


Initial examination of data from the neutral mass spectrometer on the Pioneer Venus sounder probe indicates that the abundances of argon-36, argon-38, and neon-20 in the Venus atmosphere are much higher than those of the corresponding gases in Earth's atmosphere, although the abundance of radiogenic argon-40 is apparently similar for both planets. The lower atmosphere of Venus includes significant concentrations of various gaseous sulfur compounds. The inlet leak to the mass spectrometer was temporarily blocked by an apparently liquid component of the Venus clouds during passage through the dense cloud layer. Analysis of gases released during the evaporation of the droplets shows the presence of water vapor to some compound or compounds of sulfur.