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Concurrent observations of the ultraviolet nitric oxide and infrared O[SUB]2[/SUB] nightglow emissions with Venus Express

Publication Date
  • Atmospheric Composition And Structure: Airglow And Aurora
  • Planetary Sciences: Solar System Objects: Venus
  • Planetary Sciences: Fluid Planets: Composition (1060)
  • Atmospheric Processes: Thermospheric Dynamics (0358)
  • Physical
  • Chemical
  • Mathematical & Earth Sciences :: Space Science
  • Astronomy & Astrophysics [G05]
  • Physique
  • Chimie
  • Mathématiques & Sciences De La Terre :: Aérospatiale
  • Astronomie & Astrophysique [G05]
  • Physics


Two prominent features of the Venus nightside airglow are the nitric oxide delta and gamma bands produced by radiative association of O and N atoms in the lower thermosphere and the O[SUB]2[/SUB] infrared emission generated by three-body recombination of oxygen atoms in the upper mesosphere. The O[SUB]2[/SUB] airglow has been observed from the ground, during the Cassini flyby, and with VIRTIS on board Venus Express. It now appears that the global structure of the two emissions shows some similarities, but the statistical location of the region of strongest emission is not coincident. The Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus (SPICAV) ultraviolet spectrograph has collected a large number of spectra of the Venus nitric oxide nightside airglow. Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) images have been obtained at the limb and in the nadir-viewing mode and have provided new information on the horizontal and vertical distribution of the emission. We present the first concurrent observations of the two emissions observed with Venus Express. We show that nadir observations generally indicate a low degree of correlation between the two emissions observed quasi-simultaneously at a common location. A statistical study of limb profiles indicates that the altitude and the brightness of the two airglow layers generally do not covary. We suggest that this lack of correlation is explained by the presence of strong horizontal winds in the mesosphere-thermosphere transition region. They carry the downflowing atoms over large distances in such a way that regions of enhanced NO emission generally do not coincide with zones of bright O[SUB]2[/SUB] airglow.

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