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Lightning on Venus inferred from whistler-mode waves in the ionosphere

Lightning on Venus inferred from whistler-mode waves in the ionosphere

Publication date: 29 November 2007

Authors: Russell, C.T. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 450
Issue: 7170
Page: 661-662
Year: 2007

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

The occurrence of lightning in a planetary atmosphere enables chemical processes to take place that would not occur under standard temperatures and pressures. Although much evidence has been reported for lightning on Venus, some searches have been negative and the existence of lightning has remained controversial. A definitive detection would be the confirmation of electromagnetic, whistler-mode waves propagating from the atmosphere to the ionosphere. Here we report observations of Venus' ionosphere that reveal strong, circularly polarized, electromagnetic waves with frequencies near 100 Hz. The waves appear as bursts of radiation lasting 0.25 to 0.5 s, and have the expected properties of whistler-mode signals generated by lightning discharges in Venus' clouds.

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