Venus loses carbon and oxygen ions

A brief visit by the European/Japanese BepiColombo space probe to Venus revealed gases being stripped from the planet's upper atmosphere. Discoveries in a previously unexplored part of Venus' magnetosphere show that carbon and oxygen ions are reaching speeds that allow them to escape the planet's gravity. (Nature astronomyApril 12).

Unlike Earth, Venus does not generate a magnetic field in its core. However, due to the interaction of charged particles from the Sun ( Solar wind) with electrically charged particles at the top of Venus' atmosphere – weak “comet-shaped” particles Magnetosphere formed. Surrounding this magnetosphere is a region called the magnetosphere where the solar wind is slowed and heated.

BepiColombo flew by Venus on August 10, 2021 to slow down and set course for its final destination: the planet Mercury. The spacecraft flew along the long tail of the magneto sheath, leaving it at the front, the part closest to the Sun. During this flight, BepiColombo's instruments measured the number and mass of charged particles they encountered, and collected information about the chemical and physical processes that allow particles to escape Venus' atmosphere.

To understand how Venus lost all its water, scientists are trying to map the number of heavy ions escaping from its atmosphere. However, recent findings indicate that this cannot fully explain water loss.

The currently observed leakage of carbon and oxygen ions is not yet understood. According to a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research, Lina Hadid, the lead author of the study, this is the first time that positively charged carbon ions have been observed leaking from the atmosphere of Venus. “These are heavy ions that usually move slowly and it is unclear what mechanisms are involved. They may be pulled away from the planet by electrostatic 'winds' or accelerated by centrifugal processes,” Hadid said. (E)

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BepiColombo spies smuggle oxygen and carbon in an unexplored region of Venus' magnetosphere

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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