Preliminary Results of the Solar Flux Radiometer Experiment Aboard the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe Mission

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Science  23 Feb 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4382, pp. 795-797
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4382.795


The solar flux radiometer aboard the Pioneer Venus large probe operated successfully during its descent through the atmosphere of Venus. Upward, downward, and net fluxes from 0.4 to 1.0 micrometers were obtained at more than 390 levels between 185 millibars (at an altitude of ∼61 kilometers) and the surface. Fluxes from 0.4 to 1.8 micrometers were also obtained between 185 millibars and about the level at which the pressure was 2 atmospheres. Data from 80 to 185 millibars should be available after additional decoding by the Deep Space Network. Upward and downward intensities in a narrower band from 0.59 to 0.66 micrometers were also obtained throughout the descent in order to constrain cloud properties. The measurements indicate three cloud regions above the 1.3-atmosphere level (at an altitude of ∼49 kilometers) and a clear atmosphere beneath that level. At the 67° solar zenith of the probe entry site, some 15 watts per square meter are absorbed at the surface by a dark ground, which implies that about 2 percent of the solar energy incident on the planet is absorbed at the ground.