[Comment on “Is Venus alive?”]



The June 3, 1986 issue of Eos contains a Forum by Harry Taylor (National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Laboratory, Greenbelt, Md.) with a report on his latest speculations regarding Venus lightning and on his interpretation of certain measurements from the plasma wave investigation on the Pioneer Venus Orbiter. The same views have also been announced as recent discoveries by Taylor and an associate in interviews in Science News (April 5, 1986) and in New Scientist (May 15, 1986). In fact, many of the statements and interpretations in Taylor's letter (and in the interviews) are demonstrably wrong, and I want to correct the record for Eos readers.

Taylor's discussion refers to a number of Pioneer Venus publications that appeared in various journals between 1979 and 1986. In these papers, my colleagues and I identified as whistler mode plasma waves certain low-frequency impulses detected with an electric antenna at low altitudes during the Venus night. These Venus noise bursts have all the characteristics of whistlers from lightning, and this connection was discussed in all of the published papers.