Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Space & Planetary Sciences (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Claud H. Sandberg Lacy

Committee Member

Vincent Chevrier

Second Committee Member

John Dixon

Third Committee Member

Larry Roe

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Ulrich

Keywords

Pure sciences; Earth sciences; Planetary science; Radar anomaly; Venus

Abstract

Radar studies of the surface of Venus have identified regions with high radar reflectivity concentrated in the Venusian highlands: between 2.5 and 4.75 km above a planetary radius of 6051 km, though it varies with latitude. Previous research has proposed several theories on the source of these anomalies, including increased surface roughness, metallic materials with higher dielectric constants, or ferroelectric materials. Prior work suggests several processes that could be the origin of these anomalies, such as surface-atmospheric interactions or low lying clouds or fog. Alternatively, these anomalies could result from a semi-metallic compound trapped at the cooler conditions in the highlands, likely forming as a snow or frost. If this were the case, the compound would be expected to precipitate out of a low cloud layer.

While theoretical studies have been beneficial towards determining the source of these anomalies, few experimental investigations have been done to validate these theories. In this dissertation, several minerals, chosen by their likely presence on Venus, were investigated to determine their stability under Venusian conditions, including temperature, pressure and atmospheric composition. Analysis of the empirical data enabled the identification of potential mineral source(s) of the radar-bright anomalies.

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