History of the Discovery of Lightning on Venus and Looking for its Origin

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Ball, Andrew J.
Ksanfomality, Leonid V.
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Studies of the atmosphere of Venus identified several minor gaseous components whose origin could involve electrical discharges, which produce high pressure and temperature in the discharge stroke. Measurements made by VENERA 11, 12, 13, 14 and PIONEER-VENUS (1978-83), as well as subsequent missions, indicated electrical activity of the atmosphere of Venus, and later of other planets. On 21 and 25 December 1978, VENERA 11, 12 detected a large number of electromagnetic pulses, from measurements by the Groza instrument during descent and on the surface of the planet. A few days later the same phenomena were detected by the OEFD instrument of the late Professor F. Scarf, on board the PIONEER-VENUS orbiter, which registered electromagnetic pulses. The periodicity of groups of pulses detected by Groza pointed to a distant source of the electromagnetic noise. The OEFD instrument registered pulses in low frequency whistler mode. No light flashes were found. Discharges inside Earth' clouds are well visible from outside. However a search for light flashes on the night side of Venus resulted in nothing. The hypothesis of possible volcanism as an origin of the lightning was proposed. A sudden enrichment of the atmosphere of the planet by SO2 was observed by the PV instruments and was tentatively connected with volcanic activity and electromagnetic noises. Later electromagnetic pulses coming from the atmosphere of Venus were observed by instruments of the GALILEO mission (Borucki et al., 1996). The lightning of Venus is unusual. We consider its possible similarity with high altitude discharges. Taiwanese researchers discovered recently huge lightning discharges, which rise as clusters from storm clouds to the upper layers of the atmosphere (up to 100 km). In contrast to normal lightning, these sparkling streams are propagated in rarefied air, occurring in huge clusters, having a height up to 80 km. Their duration was less than one second. It is very difficult to record these discharges. The researchers have also found that four of these streams radiated radiowaves of extremely low frequency.
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