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Little or no solar wind enters Venus' atmosphere at solar minimum

Little or no solar wind enters Venus' atmosphere at solar minimum

Publication date: 29 November 2007

Authors: Zhang, T.L. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 450
Issue: 7170
Page: 654-656
Year: 2007

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Venus has no significant internal magnetic field, which allows the solar wind to interact directly with its atmosphere. A field is induced in this interaction, which partially shields the atmosphere, but we have no knowledge of how effective that shield is at solar minimum. (Our current knowledge of the solar wind interaction with Venus is derived from measurements at solar maximum.) The bow shock is close to the planet, meaning that it is possible that some solar wind could be absorbed by the atmosphere and contribute to the evolution of the atmosphere. Here we report magnetic field measurements from the Venus Express spacecraft in the plasma environment surrounding Venus. The bow shock under low solar activity conditions seems to be in the position that would be expected from a complete deflection by a magnetized ionosphere. Therefore little solar wind enters the Venus ionosphere even at solar minimum.

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