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Science. 1991 Feb 1;251:547-9.

Deuterium on Venus: observations from Earth.

Author information

  • 1D├ępartement de Recherche Spatiale, Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France.
  • 2U Hawaii, Honolulu, Inst for Astronomy


Absorption lines of HDO and H2O have been detected in a 0.23-wave number resolution spectrum of the dark side of Venus in the interval 2.34 to 2.43 micrometers, where the atmosphere is sounded in the altitude range from 32 to 42 kilometers (8 to 3 bars). The resulting value of the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) is 120 +/- 40 times the telluric ratio, providing unequivocal confirmation of in situ Pioneer Venus mass spectrometer measurements that were in apparent conflict with an upper limit set from International Ultraviolet Explorer spectra. The 100-fold enrichment of the D/H ratio on Venus compared to Earth is thus a fundamental constraint on models for its atmospheric evolution.

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