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- Radio occultation experiments have been used to study various properties of planetary atmospheres, including pressure and temperature profiles, and the abundance profiles of absorbing constituents in those planetary atmospheres. However, the reduction of amplitude data from such experiments to determine abundance profiles requires the application of the inverse Abel transform (IAT) and numerical differentiation of experimental data. These two operations preferentially amplify measurement errors above the true signal underlying the data. A new technique for processing radio occultation data has been developed that greatly reduces the errors in the derived absorptivity and abundance profiles. This technique has been applied to datasets acquired from Pioneer Venus Orbiter radio occultation studies and more recently to experiments conducted with the Magellan spacecraft. While primarily designed for radar studies of the Venus surface, the high radiated power (EIRP) from the Magellan spacecraft makes it an ideal transmitter for measuring the refractivity and absorptivity of the Venus atmosphere by such experiments. The longevity of the Pioneer Venus Orbiter has made it possible to study long-term changes in the abundance and distribution of sulfuric acid vapor, H2SO4(g), in the Venus atmosphere between 1979 and 1992. The abundance of H2SO4(g) can be inferred from vertical profiles of 13-cm absorptivity profiles retrieved from radio occultation experiments. Data from 1979 and 1986-87 suggest that the abundance of H2SO4(g) at latitudes northward of 70 deg decreased over this time period. This change may be due to a period of active volcanism in the late 1970s followed by a relative quiescent period, or some other dynamic process in the Venus atmosphere. While the cause is not certain, such changes must be incorporated into dynamic models of the Venus atmosphere. Potentially, the Magellan spacecraft will extend the results of Pioneer Venus Orbiter and allow the continued monitoring of the abundance of distribution of H2SO4(g) in the Venus atmosphere, as well as other interesting atmospheric properties. Without such measurements it will be difficult to address other issues such as the short-term spatial variability of the abundance of H2SO4(g) at similar latitudes in Venus atmosphere, and the identities of particles responsible for large-scale variations observed in NIR images.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19930005140.
Accession ID: 93N14328.
Lunar and Planetary Inst., Papers Presented to the International Colloquium on Venus; p 50-51.
- No Copyright.
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