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Proton and alpha particle precipitation onto the upper atmosphere of Venus

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Gabriella Stenberg Wieser
  • M. Ashfaque
  • Hans Nilsson
  • Yoshifumi Futaana
  • Stas Barabash
  • Catherine Dieval
  • Andrei Fedorov
  • Tielong Zhang
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Planetary and Space Science
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)369-377
Early online date7/02/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We study the precipitation of protons and alpha-particles onto the upper atmosphere of Venus, using particle data recorded by the Venus Express spacecraft inside the induced magnetosphere. Our investigations are limited to the dayside close to the terminator. We observe on average a net downward flux of protons, which originate partly from the planetary atmosphere and partly from the solar wind. We present median energy spectra of the precipitating protons divided into two energy ranges, 10–100 eV and 100 eV–30 keV. The total dayside precipitation of solar wind protons is estimated to be 3×10^22 s^−1, assuming only protons with energies above 500 eV will reach the exobase. Downgoing protons are frequently observed but only in 3% of the available data records we see He^2+. These observations are made close to the induced magnetosphere boundary and we argue that at lower altitude the countrates for alpha-particles fall below detection limits. We estimate the precipitation of He^2+ onto the dayside exobase to be 1×10^21 s^−1, which is not enough enough to replace the helium escaping from the planet.