Articles | Volume 34, issue 7
Regular paper
14 Jul 2016
Regular paper |  | 14 Jul 2016

Solar energetic particle interactions with the Venusian atmosphere

Christina Plainaki, Pavlos Paschalis, Davide Grassi, Helen Mavromichalaki, and Maria Andriopoulou

Abstract. In the context of planetary space weather, we estimate the ion production rates in the Venusian atmosphere due to the interactions of solar energetic particles (SEPs) with gas. The assumed concept for our estimations is based on two cases of SEP events, previously observed in near-Earth space: the event in October 1989 and the event in May 2012. For both cases, we assume that the directional properties of the flux and the interplanetary magnetic field configuration would have allowed the SEPs' arrival at Venus and their penetration to the planet's atmosphere. For the event in May 2012, we consider the solar particle properties (integrated flux and rigidity spectrum) obtained by the Neutron Monitor Based Anisotropic GLE Pure Power Law (NMBANGLE PPOLA) model (Plainaki et al., 2010, 2014) applied previously for the Earth case and scaled to the distance of Venus from the Sun. For the simulation of the actual cascade in the Venusian atmosphere initiated by the incoming particle fluxes, we apply the DYASTIMA code, a Monte Carlo (MC) application based on the Geant4 software (Paschalis et al., 2014). Our predictions are afterwards compared to other estimations derived from previous studies and discussed. Finally, we discuss the differences between the nominal ionization profile due to galactic cosmic-ray–atmosphere interactions and the profile during periods of intense solar activity, and we show the importance of understanding space weather conditions on Venus in the context of future mission preparation and data interpretation.