The OH “radical” is a very special and reactive molecule, which is unusual in conventional chemistry because of its reactivity. Using the VIRTIS instrument onboard Venus Express, an international team of astronomers  observed the light emission from the night side of Venus's atmosphere and detected the presence of the OH radical in the spectra. The Venus Express spacecraft has been orbiting Venus for more than two years and has already provided planetologists with a handful of new results .
Just like the Earth, the atmosphere of Venus emits a very weak light caused by various processes occurring in the upper atmosphere. On Earth, this weak emission of light, known as airglow, was discovered in 1868. It is also referred to as nightglow because it can only be seen during the night. In the daytime, it is hidden by the much stronger light because of sunlight scattering. Observing atmospheric airglow is a major tool for inferring the composition and chemistry of the upper atmospheres of planets. For example, in Earth's atmosphere, the airglow from the OH radical, which was detected in 1948, was later found to play an important role in purging the atmosphere of pollutants harmful to the biosphere. Theoretical studies show that the hydroxyl airglow also plays an important role in the chemistry of Mars' atmosphere, but it has not yet been detected.
On Venus, airglow emissions have already been observed coming from nitrogen monoxide (NO) and oxygen dioxide (O2). The VIRTIS team now reports measurements of four airglow emission lines: two from OH at 1.44 and 2.80 microns and two from O2 at 1.27 and 1.58 microns. Figure 1 illustrates these detections. Except for the O2 emission line at 1.27 micron, which has already been observed on Venus, all three of the other emission lines have never been observed before, neither on Venus nor on another planet besides Earth .
These new observations are the most direct information found yet of three key components of Venus's upper atmosphere: hydrogen, hydroxyl, ozone (O3), and possibly perhydroxyl (HO2).
 The team of astronomers includes G. Piccioni, A. Migliorini, V. Cottini (INAF-IASF, Roma, Italy), P. Drossart, S. Erard (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, France), L. Zasova, A. Shakun, N. Ignatiev (IKI, Russia), J-C Gérard (LPAP, Liège, Belgium), F.P. Mills, A. Garcia Munoz (Australian National Univ.), D. Grassi, (INAF-IFSI, Roma, Italy), F.W. Taylor (Oxford Univ., UK), and the VIRTIS-Venus Express Technical Team.
 Visit the Venus Express web site at http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Venus_Express/index.html
 While never detected before on another planet besides Earth, hydroxyl is frequently observed in the atmosphere of comets.
Jennifer Martin | alfa
SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University
Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences