X-Ray Glow from Planetary Atmospheres

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UNEXPECTEDLY high background X-radiation has been observed during a daytime stellar X-ray survey by rocket1. The source of the radiation is attributed to X-ray fluorescence of the Earth's atmosphere. The results of calculations of the X-ray fluorescence spectrum which could be observed from a spacecraft near a planet are presented here. This spectrum should be a valuable tool in the determination of the composition of planetary atmospheres, particularly with regard to the minor constituents such as neon and argon on Venus and Mars and nitrogen and carbon on Jupiter. It could also be used to detect and identify the atmosphere of Mercury.

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AIKIN, A. X-Ray Glow from Planetary Atmospheres. Nature 227, 1334 (1970) doi:10.1038/2271334a0

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