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No. 101: Sep-Oct 1995

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The metal-frosted mountains of venus!

Venus is a very hot planet with a mean surface temperature of 740°K. It is so hot there that some metal compounds of chlorine, fluorine, and sulfur are vaporized in some locales. Such metallic "mists" could well coat out as "frost" on the cooler, higher elevations. Actually, two outstanding Venusian anomalies can be explained by such metallic "frosts."

  1. Radar signals from earth are strongly reflected from the planet's mountains and high plateaus. These regions may owe their unusually high reflectance to metallic "frosts" consisting of such radarbright minerals as pyrite, which is probably present in vapor form at lower, hotter elevations.
  2. During the 1978 Pioneer Venus mission, four instrumented probes plunged into the Venusian atmosphere. All instruments with external sensors on all four probes failed mysteriously 12.5 kilometers above the planet's surface. Thinking is that the probes pierced a cloud deck of metallic vapor that condensed on the cold sensor surfaces. (Anonymous; "Metal 'Frost' on Venus?" Sky and Telescope, 90:13, August 1995.)

From Science Frontiers #101 Sep-Oct 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987