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Magellan radio occultation measurements of atmospheric waves on VenusRadio occultation experiments were conducted at Venus on three consecutive orbits of the Magellan spacecraft in October 1991. Each occultation occurred over the same topography (67 deg N, 127 deg E) and at the same local time (22 hr 5 min), but the data are sensitive to zonal variations because the atmosphere rotates significantly during one orbit. Through comparisons between observations and predictions of standard wave theory, we have demonstrated that small-scale oscillations in retrieved temperature profiles as well as scintillations in received signal intensity are caused by a spectrum of vertically propagating internal gravity waves. There is a strong similarity between the intensity scintillations observed here and previous measurements, which pertain to a wide range of locations and experiment dates. This implies that the same basic phenomenon underlies all the observations and hence that gravity waves are a persistent, global feature of Venus' atmosphere. We obtained a fairly complete characterization of a gravity wave that appears above the middle cloud in temperature measurements on all three orbits. The amplitude and vertical wavelength are about 4 K and 2.5 km respectively, at 65 km. A model for radiative damping implies that the wave intrinsic frequency is approximately 2 x 10(exp 4) rad/sec, the corresponding ratio between horizontal and vertical wavelengths is approximately 100. The wave is nearly stationary relative to the surface or the Sun. Radiative attenuation limits the wave amplitude at altitudes above approximately 65 km, leading to wave drag on the mean zonal winds of about +0.4 m/sec per day (eastward). The sign, magnitude, and location of this forcing suggest a possible role in explaining the decrease with height in the zonal wind speed that is believed to occur above the cloud tops. Temperature oscillations with larger vertical wavelengths (5-10 km) were also observed on all three orbits, but we are able unable to interpret these unambiguously.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Hinson, David P. (Stanford Univ. Stanford, CA, United States)
Jenkins, J. M. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffet Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 114
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits