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Accueil > Plus d’actualités > Escaping oxygen and carbon Ions from Venus induced magnetosheath flank detected by BepiColombo

Escaping oxygen and carbon Ions from Venus induced magnetosheath flank detected by BepiColombo

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Unlike Earth, Venus lacks an intrinsic magnetic field. Consequently, the solar wind interacts directly with its atmosphere, accelerating the charged particles that can escape into space. In situ measurements from previous spacecraft missions had already shown that these ions were primarily composed of oxygen and hydrogen. However, the mass resolution of the instruments used did not allow for distinguishing carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.

In August 2021, the BepiColombo probe, en route to Mercury, flew-by Venus for the second and final time. On this occasion, the spaceraft passed at just under 550 km from the planet’s surface. A large number of instruments on board were active during the flyby, collecting unique data on Venus’s environment. Among them, the Mass Spectrum Analyzer (MSA) ion mass spectrometer, designed by the LPP (in collaboration with ISAS-JAXA, MPS Solar System Research, and IDA), detected a flux of low-energy carbon and oxygen ions from Venus’s induced magnetosphere. These ions were located at approximately 6 planetary radii away from the planet.

Vue schématique de l'échappement des ions lourds dans les flancs de la magnétogaine induite de Vénus

Schematic view of planetary material escaping through Venus magnetosheath flank
© Nature Astronomy, Hadid et al. ; LPP, CNRS ; Venus : ESA/MPS

This discovery is significant as it provides information on the composition and dynamics of Venus’s magnetosphere. Carbon and oxygen ions are likely expelled from Venus’s atmosphere by an ambipolar electric field generated by electrons escaping from the planet. This process is similar to that which produces the "polar wind" on Earth. MSA observations open up new perspectives for the study of Venus’s magnetosphere. They will enable scientists to learn more about the processes that control the evolution of planetary atmospheres, their magnetospheres, and their interaction with the solar wind, both in our solar system and in extrasolar systems.

Full article : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-024-02247-2

Presse release :
INSU : https://www.insu.cnrs.fr/fr/cnrsinfo/venus-perd-de-loxygene-et-du-carbone-dans-lespace
École Polytechnique : https://www.polytechnique.edu/en/news/bepicolombo-space-mission-witnesses-oxygen-and-carbon-escaping-venus
Europlanet : https://www.europlanet-society.org/bepicolombo-spies-escaping-oxygen-and-carbon-in-unexplored-region-of-venuss-magnetosphere/
Twitter/CNRS-INSU :https://twitter.com/CNRS_INSU/status/1780249717667930177
Twitter/ESA : https://twitter.com/esascience/status/1778739979641835532
Phys.org :https://phys.org/news/2024-04-bepicolombo-oxygen-carbon-unexplored-region.html
Space.com :https://www.space.com/bepicolombo-carbon-oxygen-venus-space-mission
Spacedaily.com : https://www.spacedaily.com/reports/BepiColombo_mission_detects_escaping_gases_in_Venuss_magnetosphere_999.html
Max-Planck Institute (MPS) : https://www.mpg.de/21822626/0412-aero-venus-carbon-ions-during-flyby-151060-x

Contact at LPP :
Lina Hadid, Dominique Delcourt, Sae Aizawa, Bruno Katra, Dominique Fontaine and Frédéric Leblanc


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