Abstract Electron density profiles of Venus’ ionosphere are inverted from the Venus Express (VEX) one-way open-loop radio occultation experiments carried out by the Shanghai 25 m antenna from November 2011 to January 2012 at solar maximum conditions and by the New Norcia 35 m antenna from August 2006 to June 2008 at solar intermediate conditions. The electron density profile (from 110 km to 400 km), retrieved from the X-band egress observation at the Shanghai station, shows a single peak near 147 km with a peak density of about 2×104 cm-3 at a solar zenith angle of 94°. As a comparison, the VEX radio science (VeRa) observations at the New Norcia station were also examined, including S- and X-band and dual-frequency data in the ingress mode. The results show that the electron density profiles retrieved from the S-band data are more analogous to the dual-frequency data in terms of the profile shape, compared with the X-band data. Generally, the S-band results slightly under-estimate the magnitude of the peak density, while the X-band results overestimate it. The discrepancy in the X-band profile is probably due to the relatively larger un-modeled orbital errors. It is also expected that the ionopause height is sensitive to the solar wind dynamical pressure in high and intermediate solar activities, usually in the range of 200–1000 km on the dayside and much higher on the nightside. Structural variations (“bulges” and fluctuations) can be found in the electron density profiles during intermediate solar activity, which may be caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere. Considerable ionizations can be observed in Venus’ nightside ionosphere, which are unexpected for the Martian nightside ionosphere in most cases.
Keywords planets and satellites: terrestrial planets — planets and satellites: atmo- spheres — planets and satellites: detection
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