Magnetic Field Studies of the Solar Wind Interaction with Venus from the Galileo Flyby

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Science  27 Sep 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5027, pp. 1518-1522
DOI: 10.1126/science.253.5027.1518


During the 10 February 1990 flyby of Venus, the Galileo spacecraft skimmed the downstream flank of the planetary bow shock. This provided an opportunity to examine both the global and the local structure of the shock in an interval during which conditions in the solar wind plasma were quite steady. The data show that the cross section of the shock in planes transverse to the flow is smaller in directions aligned with the projection of the interplanetary magnetic field than in directions not so aligned. Ultralow-frequency waves were present in the unshocked solar wind, and their amplitude peaked when the spacecraft was downstream of the foreshock. At large distances down the tail, the Mach number of the flow normal to the shock is low, thus providing the opportunity to study repeated crossings of the collisionless shock in an interesting parameter regime. Some of the shock crossings reveal structure that comes close to the theoretically predicted form of intermediate shocks, whose existence in collisionless plasmas has not been confirmed.