Plasma Observations at Venus with Galileo

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Science  27 Sep 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5027, pp. 1528-1531
DOI: 10.1126/science.253.5027.1528


Plasma measurements were obtained with the Galileo spacecraft during an approximately 3.5-hour interval in the vicinity of Venus on 10 February 1990. Several crossings of the bow shock in the local dawn sector were recorded before the spacecraft passed into the solar wind upstream from this planet. Although observations of ions of the solar wind and the postshock magnetosheath plasmas were not possible owing to the presence of a sunshade for thermal protection of the instrument, solar wind densities and bulk speeds were determined from the electron velocity distributions. A magnetic field—aligned distribution of hotter electrons or ``strahl'' was also found in the solar wind. Ions streaming into the solar wind from the bow shock were detected. Electron heating at the bow shock, ≤20%, was notably small, with substantial density increases by factors of 2 to 3 at the day side of the shock that decrease for shock crossings further downstream from the planet. A search for pickup ions from the hot hydrogen and oxygen planetary coronas yielded an upper limit for these densities in the range of 10-3 ion per cubic centimeter, which is consistent with densities expected from current models of neutral gas densities.