Clouds of Venus: A Preliminary Assessment of Microstructure

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Science  06 Jul 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4401, pp. 70-74
DOI: 10.1126/science.205.4401.70


The multimodal microstructure of the Venus cloud system has been examined. In addition to confirmed H2SO4 droplets and suspected elemental sulfur, a highly concentrated aerosol population has been observed extending above, within, and below the cloud system. These aerosols appear to cycle through the cloud droplets, but can never be removed by the weak precipitation mechanisms present. All cloud particles are likely laced with aerosol contaminants. Sedimentation and decomposition of H2SO4 in the droplets of the lower cloud region contribute more than 7 watts per square meter of heat flux equaling one-fourth of the solar net flux at 50 kilometers.