Laboratory simulation of Venusian lightning Academic Article uri icon


  • Evidence of lightning activity in the Venusian atmosphere has been obtained from the Venera 9, 11, and 12 spacecraft, and from the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (PVO). However, a search for optical pulses expected from Venusian lightning using the star sensor on the PVO did not detect any signals. It has been suggested that the star sensor did not detect lightning because Venusian lightning does not radiate in the 500‐ to 900‐nm spectral region detected by the star sensor. In this paper, we discuss spectra obtained from a laboratory simulation of Venusian lightning. Both the laboratory spectrum and the results of a theoretical calculation of line intensities show that Venusian lightning can be expected to radiate strongly in the 600‐ to 900‐nm spectral region. Hence, the failure of the star sensor to detect lightning must be caused by the low flashing rate or by the low intensity of Venusian lightning. This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright.

author list (cited authors)

  • Borucki, W. J., Orville, R. E., Levine, J. S., Harvey, G. A., & Howell, W. E.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • October 1983