Polarization of Impulsive Signals at Venus - Abstract

Polarization of the Impulsive Signals Observed in the Nightside Ionosphere of Venus

R. J. Strangeway

Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics,
University of California at Los Angeles

J. Geophys. Res., 96,, 22, 741-22, 752, 1991
(Received: June 11, 1991; accepted: October 1, 1991)
Copyright 1991 by the American Geophysical Union.
Paper Number 91JE02506.


       The impulsive plasma wave bursts detected by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter electric field detector in the nightside ionosphere of Venus have been attributed to atmospheric lightning. However, it has also been argued that the wave bursts are generated locally by plasma instabilities. The waves associated with local instabilities are most probably electrostatic in nature, while lightning-generated waves should be whistler mode waves, at least at the lowest frequencies. It may be possible to identify the wave modes through analysis of the wave polarization. We show that for typical ionospheric parameters the whistler mode wave electric field should be polarized predominantly perpendicular to the ambient magnetic field. However, the signals are often impulsive in nature, with durations much less than the spacecraft spin period, and an individual wave event is likely to be aliased since the event may occur at arbitrary spin phase and arbitrary intensity. Statistical analysis of the wave polarization using data acquired in the third nightside periapsis season shows that the 100-Hz data suffer from interference, which may be due to the interaction of the spacecraft with the ambient plasma. The interference is removed through visual inspection of the data, and we show that the 100-Hz waves are polarized perpendicular to the ambient magnetic field provided we restrict the data to those intervals in which the magnetic field is sufficiently far from horizontal to allow vertical propagation within the whistler mode resonance cone. The 100-Hz waves detected outside of the resonance cone are polarized parallel to the magnetic field, as are the waves at higher frequency. The waves consequently fall into two classes: whistler mode waves which are most likely due to atmospheric lightning, since the low phase speed of the whistler mode argues against an in situ instability, and a mode that is polarized parallel to the ambient field. This latter mode may be analogous to the anomalous parallel polarized wave fields detected in the terrestrial ionosphere above thunderstorms.


Title and Abstract
1. Introduction
2. Examples of Wave Polarization
3. Statistical Results
4. Summary and Conclusions
Appendix: Statistical Error Analysis
Figure Captions

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