Research News

Planetary Science: Does Tellurium Frost Venus's Highlands?

Science  05 Jan 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5245, pp. 28-29
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5245.28


Radar images of Venus present a puzzle: Why are the planet's highlands so bright? The bright patches, whose lower boundaries fall at the same altitude around the planet, look for all the world like terrestrial snow lines. Now a leading planetary scientist proposes that the reflective areas are a kind of snow: a frost of the exotic element tellurium, which freezes out of the atmosphere onto the planet's cooler highlands.