Catalytic Processes in the Atmospheres of Earth and Venus

Science  24 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4566, pp. 1209-1213
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4566.1209


Photochemical processes in planetary atmospheres are strongly influenced by catalytic effects of minor constituents. Catalytic cycles in the atmospheres of Earth and Venus are closely related. For example, chlorine oxides (CIOx) act as catalysts in the two atmospheres. On Earth, they serve to convert odd oxygen (atomic oxygen and ozone) to molecular oxygen. On Venus they have a similar effect, but in addition they accelerate the reactions of atomic and molecular oxygen with carbon monoxide. The latter process occurs by a unique combination of CIOx catalysis and sulfur dioxide photosensitization. The mechanism provides an explanation for the very low extent of carbon dioxide decomposition by sunlight in the Venus atmosphere.