Dayside temperatures in the Venus upper atmosphere from Venus Express/VIRTIS nadir measurements at 4.3 μm

Abstract : In this work, we analysed nadir observations of atmospheric infrared emissions carried out by VIRTIS, a high-resolution spectrometer on board the European spacecraft Venus Express. We focused on the ro-vibrational band of CO2 at 4.3 µm on the dayside, whose fluorescence originates in the Venus upper mesosphere and above. This is the first time that a systematic sounding of these non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE) emissions has been carried out in Venus using this geometry. As many as 143,218 spectra have been analysed on the dayside during the period 14/05/2006 to 14/09/2009. We designed an inversion method to obtain the atmospheric temperature from these non-thermal observations, including a NLTE line-by-line forward model and a pre-computed set of spectra for a set of thermal structures and illumination conditions. Our measurements sound a broad region of the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere of Venus ranging from 10 −2 –10−5 mb (which in the Venus International Reference Atmosphere, VIRA, is approximately 100–150 km during the daytime) and show a maximum around 195 ± 10 K in the subsolar region, decreasing with latitude and local time towards the terminator. This is in qualitative agreement with predictions by a Venus Thermospheric General Circulation Model (VTGCM) after a proper averaging of altitudes for meaningful comparisons, although our temperatures are colder than the model by about 25 K throughout. We estimate a thermal gradient of about 35 K between the subsolar and antisolar points when comparing our data with nightside temperatures measured at similar altitudes by SPICAV, another instrument on Venus Express (VEx). Our data show a stable temperature structure through five years of measurements, but we also found episodes of strong heating/cooling to occur in the subsolar region of less than two days.
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Javier Peralta, Miguel A. López-Valverde, Gabriella Gilli, Arianna Piccialli. Dayside temperatures in the Venus upper atmosphere from Venus Express/VIRTIS nadir measurements at 4.3 μm. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2016, 585, pp.A53. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201527191⟩. ⟨insu-01398155⟩

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