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Journal Articles Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets Year : 2020

The Venusian Atmospheric Oxygen Ion Escape: Extrapolation to the Early Solar System

M. Persson
  • Function : Author
Y. Futaana
R. Ramstad
  • Function : Author
K. Masunaga
  • Function : Author
H. Nilsson
  • Function : Author
M. Hamrin
  • Function : Author
S. Barabash
  • Function : Author


The present atmosphere of Venus contains almost no water, but recent measurements indicate that in its early history, Venus had an Earth-like ocean. Understanding how the Venusian atmosphere evolved is important not only for Venus itself but also for understanding the evolution of other planetary atmospheres. In this study, we quantify the escape rates of oxygen ions from the present Venus to infer the past of the Venusian atmosphere. We show that an extrapolation of the current escape rates back in time leads to the total escape of 0.02-0.6 m of a global equivalent layer of water. This implies that the loss of ions to space, inferred from the present state, cannot account for the loss of an historical Earth-like ocean. We find that the O+ escape rate increases with solar wind energy flux, where more energy available leads to a higher escape rate. Oppositely, the escape rate decreases slightly with increased extreme ultraviolet radiation (EUV) flux, though the small variation of EUV flux over the measured solar cycle may explain the weak dependency. These results indicate that there is not enough energy transferred from the solar wind to Venus' upper atmosphere that can lead to the escape of the atmosphere over the past 3.9 billion years. This means that the Venusian atmosphere did not have as much water in its atmosphere as previously assumed or the present-day escape rates do not represent the historical escape rates at Venus. Otherwise, some other mechanisms have acted to more effectively remove the water from the Venusian atmosphere.
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insu-03673162 , version 1 (20-05-2022)





M. Persson, Y. Futaana, R. Ramstad, K. Masunaga, H. Nilsson, et al.. The Venusian Atmospheric Oxygen Ion Escape: Extrapolation to the Early Solar System. Journal of Geophysical Research. Planets, 2020, 125, ⟨10.1029/2019JE006336⟩. ⟨insu-03673162⟩
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