Under a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre, scientists have detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of Earth's neighbouring planet, Venus.
Unlike Earth, where oxygen constitutes 21% of the atmosphere, Venus has a thick, noxious atmosphere with 96.5% carbon dioxide, and negligible oxygen, making this discovery significant.
The identified atomic oxygen, consisting of a lone oxygen atom, contrasts with molecular oxygen, which comprises two oxygen atoms and is suitable for breathing.
The scientists successfully detected oxygen on both the side of Venus exposed to the sun, where it is generated, and the side turned away from the sun.
The oxygen, discovered 100 km above Venus's surface, exists between atmospheric layers. Its temperatures vary from approximately minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit on the day side to minus 256 degrees Fahrenheit on the night side.
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