Several photometric measurements of Venus made from the Pioneer Venus orbiter and probes indicate that solar near-ultraviolet radiation is being absorbed throughout much of the main cloud region, but little above the clouds or within the first one or two optical depths. Radiative transfer calculations were carried out to simulate both Pioneer Venus and ground-based data for a number of proposed cloud compositions. This comparison rules out models invoking nitrogen dioxide, meteoritic material, and volatile metals as the source of the ultraviolet absorption. Models involving either small (∼ I micrometer) or large (∼ 10 micrometers) sulfur particles have some serious difficulties, while ones invoking sulfur dioxide gas appear to be promising.
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