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The evolution of co-orbiting material in the orbit of 2201 Oljato from 1980 to 2012 as deduced from Pioneer Venus Orbiter and Venus Express magnetic records



Asteroid 2201 Oljato passed through perihelion inside the orbit of Venus near the time of its conjunction with Venus in 1980, 1983, and 1986. During those three years, many interplanetary field enhancements (IFEs) were observed by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (PVO) in the longitude sector where the orbit of Oljato lies inside Venus' orbit. We attribute IFEs to clouds of fine-scale, possibly highly charged dust picked up by the solar wind after an interplanetary collision between objects in the diameter range of 10–1000 m. We interpret the increase rate in IFEs at PVO in these years as due to material in Oljato's orbit colliding with material in, or near to, Venus' orbital plane and producing a dust-anchored structure in the interplanetary magnetic field. In March 2012, almost 30 yr later, with Venus Express (VEX) now in orbit, the Oljato-Venus geometry is similar to the one in 1980. Here, we compare IFEs detected by VEX and PVO using the same IFE identification criteria. We find an evolution with time of the IFE rate. In contrast to the results in the 1980s, the recent VEX observations reveal that at solar longitudes in which the Oljato orbit is inside that of Venus, the IFE rate is reduced to the level even below the rate seen at solar longitudes where Oljato's orbit is outside that of Venus. This observation implies that Oljato not only lost its co-orbiting material but also disrupted the “target material,” with which the co-orbiting material was colliding, near Venus.