Polarimetry as a tool for observing orographic gravity waves on venus

Gourav Mahapatra*, Maxence Lefèvre, Loïc Rossi, Aymeric Spiga, Daphne M. Stam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Planet-wide stationary gravity waves have been observed with the thermal camera on the Akatsuki spacecraft. These waves have been attributed to the underlying surface topography and have successfully been reproduced using the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) Venus Mesoscale Model (VMM). Here, we use numerical radiative transfer computations of the total and polarized fluxes of the sunlight that is reflected by Venus under the conditions of these gravity waves to show that the waves could also be observed in polarimetric observations. To model the waves, we use the density perturbations computed by the IPSL VMM. We show the computed wave signatures in the polarization for nadir-viewing geometries observed by a spacecraft in orbit around Venus and as they could be observed using an Earth-based telescope. We find that the strength of the signatures of the atmospheric density waves in the degree of polarization of the reflected sunlight depends not only on the density variations themselves, but also on the wavelength and the cloud top altitude. Observations of such wave signatures on the dayside of the planet would give insight into the occurrence of the waves and possibly into the conditions that govern their onset and development. The computed change in degree of polarization due to these atmospheric density waves is about 1000 ppm at a wavelength of 300 nm. This signal is large enough for an accurate polarimeter to detect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number96
Number of pages12
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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