Wind Velocities on Venus: Vector Determination by Radio Interferometry

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Science  23 Feb 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4382, pp. 805-806
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4382.805


To determine the wind directions and speeds on Venus, as each Pioneer probe fell to the surface we tracked its motion in three dimensions using a combination of Doppler and long-baseline radio interferometric methods. Preliminary results from this tracking, coupled with results from test observations of other spacecraft, enable us to estimate the uncertainties of our eventual determinations of the velocity vectors of the probes with respect to Venus. For altitudes below about 65 kilometers and with time-averaging over 100-second intervals, all three components of the velocity should have errors of the order of 0.3 meter per second or less.