Certainty is Wild and Weaving: Analyzing the Clouds of Venus

Abstract

Supposed detection of phosphine as a biosigature in the clouds of Venus has resulted in a flurry of interest in studying the potential habitability of Venus and other Venus-like exoplanets. However, there are still many unanswered questions about the planet\u27s atmosphere. In this senior project, use spectroscopy to better understand the molecular composition and atmospheric dynamics of Venus. To do this, I analyzed partly-processed spectra from a previously unstudied infrared wavelength obtained at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in July 2021. I developed multiple systems of analysis to extract information from the partly processed data and understand the consequences of this processing. Using the relative motion between Venus and the Earth, I found that differences in atmospheric spectral features between Venus and the Earth was well explained by a Doppler shift, providing more insights into how this data was partially processed before I received it. Using the Earth’s atmosphere as an anchor for analysis, I report here the detection of ozone and water in the Venusian atmosphere between 1120 cm-1 and 1122 cm-1. Initial calculation results in a ozone mixing ratio around 1 ppm, which fits within our current understanding of ozone in the atmosphere of Venus. The system developed to identify these features can be used to explain the presence of other particles in the full set of observational data and track their spatial and temporal variability across the Venusian disk

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