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The Pioneer Venus Orbiter Ultraviolet Spectrometer has recorded continuous but variable emissions of atomic oxygen at 1304 and 1356 Å in images of the nightside of Venus. We show that the observed intensities are consistent with the presence of precipitation of soft electrons into the nightside thermosphere. Model calculations are presented in which upper and lower limits to the magnitude of the electron flux necessary to produce the observed intensities are derived. Constraints are imposed on the energy spectrum of the electrons by the measured ion densities and by the predicted intensities of other emissions that have not been detected.


Copyright © 1991 by the American Geophysical Union.

The following article appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 96(A6), and may be found at

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