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Keywords:

  • Venus;
  • lightning;
  • ELF waves;
  • Venus Express

Abstract

[1] The occurrence of electrical discharges in planetary atmospheres produces high temperatures and pressures enabling chemical reactions that are not possible under local thermodynamic equilibrium conditions. On Earth, electrical discharges in clouds produce nitric oxide. Similar abundances of nitric oxide exist in the Venus atmosphere, but the existence of extensive electrical activity in its substantive cloud system is not as firmly established. To determine the strength and occurrence rate of lightning, the Venus Express mission included dual magnetometers sampling at 128 Hz to detect the electromagnetic signals produced by lightning. We report herein evidence of the apparent overflight of electrical storms by the Venus Express spacecraft. These observations reveal two types of signals reaching the spacecraft: one in the ELF band that exhibits dispersion and travels along the magnetic field, and one in the ULF band that appears to travel vertically across the magnetic field from below.