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Table 4 Summary of hypotheses regarding Venus lightning

From: Lightning detection on Venus: a critical review

Scenario Support Comment/challenge Conclusion
There is no electrical activity on Venus • Sensitive Cassini search yielded null result
• Various optical searches have yielded null results
• A priori theoretical difficulty of charge separation
• Requires alternative mechanisms (e.g., local plasma noise) for all orbital electromagnetic evidence (Pioneer OEFD, VEx magnetometer)
• Also requires alternative mechanism for atmosphere/surface electromagnetic evidence (Veneras 11–14)
• Implies Venera 9 optical detection spurious (not improbable per the present paper)
• Implies ground-based optical detection spurious
Unlikely
Sporadic electrical discharges occur with characteristics different from Earth • Consistent with electromagnetic signatures
• Occasional optical detections
• If optical signals are present at all, perhaps they are transient luminous events (TLE’s, i.e., sprites or similar)
• Cassini radio nondetection was “unlucky”—ionospheric conditions?
Not excluded
Frequent lightning similar to Earth • Venera 9 original interpretation • Sensitive Cassini search yielded null result, but detected ample activity at Earth with similar observation
• Orbital electromagnetic signatures imply lower rates
• Various optical searches have yielded null results or low flash rates
• A priori theoretical difficulty of charge separation
Unlikely