Modelling dications in the diurnal ionosphere of Venus
Laboratoire de Planétologie de Grenoble, Université Joseph Fourier - CNRS, France e-mail: email@example.com
2 Research and Scientific Support Department of ESA, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
3 Laboratoire de Chimie Physique – CNRS – UMR 8000, Univ. Paris Sud, 91405 Orsay, France
Accepted: 9 December 2006
Context.Previous studies have shown that doubly-charged positive ions, including molecular ions, can have detectable densities in the ionospheres of Mars, Titan, and the Earth.
Aims.In the present paper, we continue our approach by modelling the Venusian ionosphere. The neutral atmosphere of Venus has a similar composition to the ones encountered in the other terrestrial planets, with carbon dioxide (as on Mars), nitrogen (as on Earth and Titan), and atomic oxygen (as on Earth).
Methods. We computed the doubly-charged positive ion production through photoionisation (primary production) and electron impact ionisation (secondary production). We computed the densities under the photochemical equilibrium assumption.
Results. We predict a layer centred around altitude with a density reaching 30 dications per in active solar conditions and a layer centred around a altitude with density reaching . We find good agreement between the modelled densities and Pioneer Venus Orbiter measurements. Finally, we investigate the problem of possible detection of these ions by the European spacecraft Venus Express.
Conclusions. Although molecular doubly-charged positive ion densities are low, these ions cannot be considered as negligible compared to other minor ion species. Their detection should be possible in the future through remote sensing or in-situ methods including ion mass spectrometry and UV spectroscopy.
Key words: planets and satellites: individual: Venus / atmospheric effects / Sun: UV radiation / space vehicles: instruments
© ESO, 2007