Surface winds on Venus: Probability distribution from in-situ measurements
A surface wind specification is needed for future landed missions to Venus. While sparse, there exist enough data from the limited surface and near-surface measurements to date to define a probability density function that guides expectations of winds for rational design of landing systems. Following a review of all available data (mostly from the Venera missions), a Weibull function, used previously for Mars and Titan, and widely used in terrestrial engineering applications, is proposed. Best-estimate wind measurements are reasonably described by P( greater than V) = exp[−(V/c)k], with c = 0.8 m/s, k = 1.9: this function yields a 95% chance of winds less than 1.4 m/s and 99% less than 1.8 m/s. A worst-case function, allowing the high end of Venera measurement uncertainties to force the fit, has slightly higher values (c = 0.9 m/s, k = 1.7; 95% wind 1.7 m/s; 99%, 2.2 m/s). The data suggest that winds strong enough to move dust and sand on Venus are rather common (more so than is typical for Mars, Earth or Titan), a prediction testable with radar interferometry on future orbital missions and/or from landed observations. More elaborate analyses should take site-specific factors such as slope or time of day into account, but cannot be meaningfully constrained by present data.