Planetary and Space Science | 2019
The upper atmosphere of Venus: Model predictions for mass spectrometry measurements
Abstract Venus is the closest and most similar planet to Earth in the whole solar system, yet, basic measurements are missing. The atmospheric composition has been studied to some extent with the Pioneer Venus Orbiter mission and the more recent Venus Express, however, the concentration of many species and their isotopic ratios are not yet known with satisfying accuracy. Especially when it comes to the heavy noble gases as Kr and Xe, there is little to no collected data in this field. These elements form a key link to the reconstruction of the atmospheric evolution, which would deliver crucial information on the formation of Earth-like bodies. Knowing the abundances of the noble gases may allow us to answer the question why Venus did not evolve to a potentially habitable planet like its neighbour Earth. This paper presents a meta-study of existing observations of Venus upper atmosphere and exosphere and an exospheric model of the thermal and hot atmosphere of Venus above the homopause. Mass spectra for possible future Venus missions are predicted, as for example the EnVision mission of ESA. The main focus are the heavy noble gases and requirements for the trajectories are proposed. In addition, mass spectra and recommended integration times for the Venus flyby of ESA s JUICE mission are derived.