Preliminary Results on the Atmospheres of Io and Jupiter from the Pioneer 10 S-Band Occultation Experiment

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Science  25 Jan 1974:
Vol. 183, Issue 4122, pp. 323-324
DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4122.323


The preliminary analysis of data from the Pioneer 10 S-band radio occultation experinment has revealed the presence of an ionosphere on the Jovian satellite Io (JI) having an electron density peak of about 6 x 104 electrons per cubic centimeter at an altitude of approximately 60 to 140 kilometers. This suggests the presence of an atmosphere having a surface number density of about 1010 to 1012 per cubic centimeter, corresponding to an atmospheric surface pressure of between 10-8 and 10-10 bar, at or below the detection threshold of the Beta Scorpii stellar occultation. A measurement of the atmosphere of Jupiter was obtained down to the level of about 80 millibars, indicating a large temperature increase at about the 20 millibar level, which cannot be explained by the absorption of solar radiation by methane alone and can possibly be due to absorption by particulate matter.