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Hot oxygen atoms in the Venus nightside exosphere

Abstract : The nightside oxygen exosphere of Venus is investigated for high and moderate solar activity by means of a Monte-Carlo model. Hot O atoms are assumed to be produced by dissociative recombination of O2+ and NO+ molecular ions and by charge transfer processes between ionospheric O+ ions and neutral O and H atoms. The model considers rotational and vibrational excitation of the initial energy distribution of hot O atoms, includes elastic, inelastic, and quenching collisions between the suprathermal atoms and the ambient neutral atmosphere species, and uses differential cross sections for the determination of the scattering angle in the collisions. The results indicate that dissociative recombination of O2+ is, like at Venus' dayside, the most efficient source of hot O atoms at the planet's nightside. For high solar activity, the nightside exospheric density of hot O atoms is about one order of magnitude lower compared to the dayside, although between 2-10 times higher than in previous studies.
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H. Gröller, H. Lammer, H. I. M. Lichtenegger, M. Pfleger, O. Dutuit, et al.. Hot oxygen atoms in the Venus nightside exosphere. Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union, 2012, 39, ⟨10.1029/2011GL050421⟩. ⟨insu-03612450⟩



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