Venus surface thermal emission at 1 μm in VIRTIS imaging observations: Evidence for variation of crust and mantle differentiation conditions

N. Mueller, J. Helbert, G. L. Hashimoto, C. C.C. Tsang, S. Erard, G. Piccioni, P. Drossart

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71 Citations (Scopus)


[1] The Venus Express spacecraft images the nightside thermal emissions using the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS). At 1.02, 1.10, and 1.18 μm, thermal emission from the surface is observed. The signal is attenuated by scattering and absorption in the dense atmosphere. The measured flux at the top of the atmosphere is positively correlated with surface temperature and surface emissivity. The surface temperature of Venus is relatively well constrained as being mainly a function of altitude with a gradient lesser or equal to the adiabatic lapse rate. This study examines the correlation of VIRTIS images showing a signal of the surface at 1.02 μm with viewing geometry, stray sunlight, cloud opacity, and topography and applies semiempirical relations to remove their influence. The remaining contrast can be either ascribed to surface emissivity or unexpected temperature variations. Temperature variations due to active volcanism are unlikely to be persistent over the time of observations; therefore, the mosaic of all processed images is here interpreted in terms of surface emissivity variation. The emissivity variation found is correlated with geomorphological features established from Magellan synthetic aperture radar images. It is generally lower at tessera terrain. Some, but not all, volcanic edifices show increased emissivity. Large lava flows in the Lada terra-Lavinia planitia region also show an increased thermal emission. This might indicate a more felsic surface composition of tessera highlands and large-scale extrusive volcanism of ultramafic composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E00B17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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