Gi­ant pat­tern found in clouds of Venus

The Free Press Journal - - ETCETERA -

Ja­panese sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied a gi­ant streak struc­ture among the clouds cov­er­ing the planet Venus, based on ob­ser­va­tion from the space­craft Akat­suki. The re­searchers from Kobe Uni­ver­sity in Ja­pan also re­vealed the ori­gins of this struc­ture us­ing largescale cli­mate sim­u­la­tions.

Venus is of­ten called Earth’s twin be­cause of their sim­i­lar size and grav­ity, but the cli­mate on Venus is very dif­fer­ent. It ro­tates in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to Earth, and a lot more slowly — about one ro­ta­tion for 243 Earth days.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, about 60 kilo­me­tres (km) above Venus’ sur­face a speedy east wind cir­cles the planet in about four Earth days (at 360 km/hour), a phe­nom­e­non known as at­mo­spheric su­per­ro­ta­tion. The sky of Venus is fully cov­ered by thick clouds of sul­phuric acid that are lo­cated at a height of 4570 km, mak­ing it hard to ob­serve the planet’s sur­face from Earth-based tele­scopes and or­biters cir­cling Venus.

Sur­face tem­per­a­tures reach a scorch­ing 460 de­grees Cel­sius, a harsh en­vi­ron­ment for any ob­ser­va­tions by en­try probes. Due to these con­di­tions, there are still many un­knowns re­gard­ing Venus’ at­mo­spheric phe­nom­ena. To solve the puzzle of Venus’ at­mos­phere, the Ja­panese space­craft Akat­suki be­gan its or­bit of Venus in De­cem­ber 2015.

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