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Radio Scintillations in Venus's Atmosphere: Application of a Theory of Gravity Wave Generation

Stephen S. LeroyDivision of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Andrew P. IngersollDivision of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

Radio scintillations in Pioneer Venus radio Occultation data are simulated assuming that the index of refraction fluctuations in Venus's atmosphere responsible for the scintillations are directly caused by gravity wave fluctuations. The gravity waves are created by a global convection layer between 50- and 55-km attitude in Venus's atmosphere and propagate vertically. The authors compare the simulated scintillations with data from Pioneer Venus.

These gravity waves can explain the spectral shape and amplitude of the radio scintilations. The shape at high frequencies is controlled by wave breaking, which yields a saturated spectrum. The amplitude is subject to parameters such as the intensity of the convection, the angle between the zonal winds and the beam path, and the zonal wind profile at polar latitudes. To match the observed amplitude of the scintillations, the velocity variations of the energy-bearing eddies in the convection must be at least 2 m s−1. This value is consistent with the Venus balloon results of Sagdeev et al. and is in the middle of the range considered by Leroy and Ingersoll in their study of convectively generated gravity waves. The later study, combined with the lower bound on velocity from the present study, then yields lower bounds on the vertical fluxes of momentum and energy in the Venus atmosphere.

Abstract

Radio scintillations in Pioneer Venus radio Occultation data are simulated assuming that the index of refraction fluctuations in Venus's atmosphere responsible for the scintillations are directly caused by gravity wave fluctuations. The gravity waves are created by a global convection layer between 50- and 55-km attitude in Venus's atmosphere and propagate vertically. The authors compare the simulated scintillations with data from Pioneer Venus.

These gravity waves can explain the spectral shape and amplitude of the radio scintilations. The shape at high frequencies is controlled by wave breaking, which yields a saturated spectrum. The amplitude is subject to parameters such as the intensity of the convection, the angle between the zonal winds and the beam path, and the zonal wind profile at polar latitudes. To match the observed amplitude of the scintillations, the velocity variations of the energy-bearing eddies in the convection must be at least 2 m s−1. This value is consistent with the Venus balloon results of Sagdeev et al. and is in the middle of the range considered by Leroy and Ingersoll in their study of convectively generated gravity waves. The later study, combined with the lower bound on velocity from the present study, then yields lower bounds on the vertical fluxes of momentum and energy in the Venus atmosphere.

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