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The structure of Venus' middle atmosphere and ionosphere

The structure of Venus' middle atmosphere and ionosphere

Publication date: 29 November 2007

Authors: Pätzold, M. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 450
Issue: 7170
Page: 657-660
Year: 2007

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

The atmosphere and ionosphere of Venus have been studied in the past by spacecraft with remote sensing or in situ techniques. These early missions, however, have left us with questions about, for example, the atmospheric structure in the transition region from the upper troposphere to the lower mesosphere (50-90 km) and the remarkably variable structure of the ionosphere. Observations become increasingly difficult within and below the global cloud deck (<50 km altitude), where strong absorption greatly limits the available investigative spectrum to a few infrared windows and the radio range. Here we report radio-sounding results from the first Venus Express Radio Science (VeRa) occultation season. We determine the fine structure in temperatures at upper cloud-deck altitudes, detect a distinct day-night temperature difference in the southern middle atmosphere, and track day-to-day changes in Venus' ionosphere.

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