Atmospheric acoustics of Titan, Mars, Venus, and Earth

Andi Petculescu*, Richard M. Lueptow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Planetary atmospheres are complex dynamical systems whose structure, composition, and dynamics intimately affect the propagation of sound. Thus, acoustic waves, being coupled directly to the medium, can effectively probe planetary environments. Here we show how the acoustic absorption and speed of sound in the atmospheres of Venus, Mars, Titan, and Earth (as predicted by a recent molecular acoustics model) mirror the different environments. Starting at the surface, where the sound speed ranges from ∼200 m/s for Titan to ∼410 m/s for Venus, the vertical sound speed profiles reveal differences in the atmospheres' thermal layering and composition. The absorption profiles are relatively smooth for Mars, Titan, and Earth while Venus stands out with a noticeable attenuation dip occurring between 40 and 100 km. We also simulate a descent module sampling the sound field produced by a low-frequency "event" near the surface noting the occurrence of acoustic quiet zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Atmospheres
  • Mars
  • Titan
  • Venus
  • atmosphere
  • composition
  • structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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