Near-IR oxygen nightglow observed by VIRTIS in the Venus upper atmosphere

G. Piccioni*, L. Zasova, A. Migliorini, P. Drossart, A. Shakun, A. Garcia Munoz, F. P. Mills, A. Cardesin-Moinelo

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    [1] We present observations of both the (0-0) and (0-1) bands at 1.27 and 1.58 μm of the O2(a1 Δg - X 3Σg-) nightglow made with the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) instrument aboard Venus Express. The observations were conducted in both nadir and limb viewing modes, the latter constituting the first systematic investigation into the vertical distribution of the volume emission rate of the infrared oxygen nightglow in Venus' upper atmosphere. Limb measurements from 42 orbits covering the latitude range 7°S to 77°N are analyzed. The peak altitude of the volume emission rate occurs typically between 95 and 100 km, with a mean of 97.4 ± 2.5 km. The vertical profile is broader near the equator, with a full width at half maximum of 11 km, a factor 2 larger than at middle latitudes. A double peak is frequently observed, with the lower and upper peaks occurring near 96-98 km and 103-105 km, respectively. On average, the nightglow appears brightest in the vicinity of the antisolar point. This conclusion is consistent with past ground-based observations and nadir measurements by VIRTIS. We mapped the global mean O2 nightglow intensity from VIRTIS data collected during 880 orbits. Patchy features of the nightglow intensity observed in nadir view are correlated with the thermal brightness at 4.23-4.28 μm. The observed positive correlation is consistent with downwelling (upwelling) of oxygen atoms accompanying compressional heating (expansion cooling) or with modulation by gravity waves. Finally, from simultaneous measurements of the 1.27 and 1.58 μm bands, we have estimated the ratio of the transition probabilities A 00/A01 to be 63 ± 8.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E00B38
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2009


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