Structure of the Atmosphere of Venus up to 110 Kilometers: Preliminary Results from the Four Pioneer Venus Entry Probes

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Science  23 Feb 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4382, pp. 787-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4382.787


The four Pioneer Venus entry probes transmitted data of good quality on the structure of the atmosphere below the clouds. Contrast of the structure below an altitude of 50 kilometers at four widely separated locations was found to be no more than a few degrees Kelvin, with slightly warmer temperatures at 30° south latitude than at 5° or 60° north. The atmosphere was stably stratified above 15 or 20 kilometers, indicating that the near-adiabatic state is maintained by the general circulation. The profiles move from near-adiabatic toward radiative equilibrium at altitudes above 40 kilometers. There appears to be a region of vertical convection above the dense cloud deck, which lies at 47.5 to 49 kilometers and at temperature levels near 360 K. The atmosphere is nearly isothermal around 100 kilometers (175 to 180 K) and appears to exhibit a sizable temperature wave between 60 and 70 kilometers. This is where the 4-day wind is believed to occur. The temperature wave may be related to some of the wavelike phenomena seen in Mariner 10 ultraviolet photographs.