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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
Here are four different ways chemists use to show a molecule of nitric acid. In the colored molecule models, sulfur is yellow, oxygen is red, and hydrogen is white.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.

Sulfuric Acid - H2SO4

Sulfuric acid is a very common type of acid. Acid rain has sulfuric acid in it. Acid rain harms plants, fish, and other living things.

A type of air pollution causes acid rain. When people burn fossil fuels like oil and coal, the smoke has a chemical in it called sulfur dioxide. When the sulfur dioxide gas comes into contact with water droplets in the atmosphere, it changes into sulfuric acid. This is one of the ways acid rain forms. Volcanoes also give off sulfur dioxide gas.

Sulfuric acid isn't all bad, though. People use this acid in lots of ways. Batteries in cars have sulfuric acid in them. Some drain cleaners do too. Humans make more than 100 million tons of sulfuric acid each year!

The hot atmosphere of the planet Venus has sulfuric acid in it. That makes it really hard to build spacecraft that can last very long in the atmosphere of Venus.

Last modified February 3, 2006 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF