Lightning Detection by LAC Onboard the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter, Planet-C
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Lightning activity in Venus has been a mystery for a long period, although many studies based on observations both by spacecraft and by ground-based telescope have been carried out. This situation may be attributed to the ambiguity of these evidential measurements. In order to conclude this controversial subject, we are developing a new type of lightning detector, LAC (Lightning and Airglow Camera), which will be onboard Planet-C (Venus Climate Orbiter: VCO). Planet-C will be launched in 2010 by JAXA. To distinguish an optical lightning flash from other pulsing noises, high-speed sampling at 50 kHz for each pixel, that enables us to investigate the time variation of each lightning flash phenomenon, is adopted. On the other hand, spatial resolution is not the first priority. For this purpose we developed a new type of APD (avalanche photo diode) array with a format of 8×8. A narrow band interference filter at wavelength of 777.4 nm (OI), which is the expected lightning color based on laboratory discharge experiment, is chosen for lightning measurement. LAC detects lightning flash with an optical intensity of average of Earth’s lightning or less at a distance of 3 Rv. In this paper, firstly we describe the background of the Venus lightning study to locate our spacecraft project, and then introduce the mission details.
KeywordsVenus Lightning Atmosphere Electricity Planet-C VCO Orbiter LAC
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