Interpretation of the Polarization of Venus

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  • 1 Goddard Institute for Space studies, New York, N. Y. 10025
  • | 2 Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Free University, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Abstract

The linear polarization of sunlight reflected by Venus is analyzed by comparing observations with extensive multiple scattering computations. The analysis establishes that Venus is veiled by a cloud or haze layer of spherical particles. The refractive index of the particles is 1.44±0.015 at λ=0.55 μm with a normal dispersion, the refractive index decreasing from 1.46±0.015 at λ=0.365 μm to 1.43±0.015 at λ=0.99 μm. The cloud particles have a narrow size distribution with a mean radius of ∼1 μm; specifically, the effective radius of the size distribution is 1.05±0.10 μm and the effective variance is 0.07±0.02. The particles exist at a high level in the atmosphere, with the optical thickness unity occurring where the pressure is about 50 mb.

The particle properties deduced from the polarization eliminate all but one of the cloud compositions which have been proposed for Venue. A concentrated solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4-H2O) provides good agreement with the polarization data.

Abstract

The linear polarization of sunlight reflected by Venus is analyzed by comparing observations with extensive multiple scattering computations. The analysis establishes that Venus is veiled by a cloud or haze layer of spherical particles. The refractive index of the particles is 1.44±0.015 at λ=0.55 μm with a normal dispersion, the refractive index decreasing from 1.46±0.015 at λ=0.365 μm to 1.43±0.015 at λ=0.99 μm. The cloud particles have a narrow size distribution with a mean radius of ∼1 μm; specifically, the effective radius of the size distribution is 1.05±0.10 μm and the effective variance is 0.07±0.02. The particles exist at a high level in the atmosphere, with the optical thickness unity occurring where the pressure is about 50 mb.

The particle properties deduced from the polarization eliminate all but one of the cloud compositions which have been proposed for Venue. A concentrated solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4-H2O) provides good agreement with the polarization data.

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