Radio Occultation Studies of Venus  Atmosphere with Magellan

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Radio Occultation Studies of Venus Atmosphere with Magellan

  • Jon M., Jenkins
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1998
SETI Institute


We have been conducting a systematic study of the middle and lower atmosphere of Venus through analysis of 20 radio occultation experiments conducted with the Magellan spacecraft between October, 1991, and August, 1994. These studies have revealed a rich but sparsely sampled trove of information regarding the structure, composition and dynamics of the Venus atmosphere. The five sets of experiments sampled a variety of latitudes. Basic results include vertical profiles of: (1) electron density in the ionosphere, (2) pressure, temperature, density, and static stability in the neutral atmosphere (from 33 km to 98 km), and (3) sulfuric acid vapor (H2SO4) abundance below the main cloud deck. Further analysis of the temperature profiles led to the discovery of small vertical-scale gravity waves in the neutral atmosphere. The retrieved profiles show intriguing zonal variations that might be due to planetary- scale waves. During the performance period of this grant, we have concentrated on reanalyzing the 15 experiments conducted in 1994 using improved trajectory files for Magellan provided by JPL, obtaining more reliable results, and on conducting an error analysis of the derived profiles. In addition, we have begun an analysis of microwave emission maps of Venus obtained at the Very Large Array (VLA) in April, 1996. This report is organized as follows: A summary of results is presented, giving representative examples of the various physical profiles retrieved from all the Magellan radio occultation studies, emphasizing latitudinal variations evident in the data. Next, a preliminary analysis of the VLA maps is given. A summary of activities follows the scientific results, detailing papers published and presented at various conferences. This report concludes with a "Conclusions and Suggestions for Future Work" section.

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