London: Planetary scientists claim to have discovered that Venus has an ozone layer, just like Earth. Until now, ozone layers have only been detected in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.

Now, an international team says that the European Space Agency's Venus Express craft has found Venus also possess the thin layer, which is hundred of times less dense than the Earth's, the journal reported.
   
In fact, the European spacecraft spied the ozone layer when focusing on stars through Venus' atmosphere. The distant stars appeared fainter than expected, because the ozone layer absorbed some of their ultraviolet light.
   
Team leader Franck Montmessin of the LATMOS atmospheric research centre in France, explained that Venus' ozone layer sits 100 km up -- about three times the height of Earth.
   
The ozone -- a molecule containing three oxygen atoms -- formed when sunlight broke down carbon dioxide in the Venusian atmosphere to form oxygen molecules, say the scientists.
   
On Earth, ozone, which absorbs much of the Sun's harmful UV-rays preventing them reaching the surface, is formed in a similar way. However, this process is supplemented by oxygen released by carbon dioxide-munching microbes.
   
Hakan Svedhem, ESA project scientist for the Venus Express mission, was quoted by the 'BBC' as saying, "This ozone detection tells us a lot about the circulation and the
chemistry of Venus' atmosphere.

"Beyond that, it is yet more evidence of the fundamental similarity between the rocky planets, and shows the importance of studying Venus to understand them all."
   
Montmessin added: "We can use these new observations to test and refine the scenarios for the detection of life on other worlds."

(PTI)