The electric wind of Venus: A global and persistent "polar wind"-like ambipolar electric field sufficient for the direct escape of heavy ionospheric ions - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Geophysical Research Letters Year : 2016

The electric wind of Venus: A global and persistent "polar wind"-like ambipolar electric field sufficient for the direct escape of heavy ionospheric ions

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Glyn A. Collinson
  • Function : Author
Rudy A. Frahm
  • Function : Author
Alex Glocer
  • Function : Author
Andrew J. Coates
  • Function : Author
Joseph M. Grebowsky
  • Function : Author
Stas Barabash
  • Function : Author
Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman
  • Function : Author
Yoshifumi Futaana
Lin K. Gilbert
  • Function : Author
George Khazanov
  • Function : Author
Tom A. Nordheim
  • Function : Author
David Mitchell
Thomas E. Moore
  • Function : Author
William K. Peterson
  • Function : Author
John D. Winningham
  • Function : Author
Tielong L. Zhang
  • Function : Author

Abstract

Understanding what processes govern atmospheric escape and the loss of planetary water is of paramount importance for understanding how life in the universe can exist. One mechanism thought to be important at all planets is an "ambipolar" electric field that helps ions overcome gravity. We report the discovery and first quantitative extraterrestrial measurements of such a field at the planet Venus. Unexpectedly, despite comparable gravity, we show the field to be five times stronger than in Earth's similar ionosphere. Contrary to our understanding, Venus would still lose heavy ions (including oxygen and all water-group species) to space, even if there were no stripping by the solar wind. We therefore find that it is possible for planets to lose heavy ions to space entirely through electric forces in their ionospheres and such an "electric wind" must be considered when studying the evolution and potential habitability of any planet in any star system.
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insu-03669491 , version 1 (16-05-2022)

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Glyn A. Collinson, Rudy A. Frahm, Alex Glocer, Andrew J. Coates, Joseph M. Grebowsky, et al.. The electric wind of Venus: A global and persistent "polar wind"-like ambipolar electric field sufficient for the direct escape of heavy ionospheric ions. Geophysical Research Letters, 2016, 43, pp.5926-5934. ⟨10.1002/2016GL068327⟩. ⟨insu-03669491⟩
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