Scientists Reveal Mysteries on the Night Side of Venus

Credit: ESA

scientists have studied clouds and wind on the night side of Venus and they have found that it is very different from the day side.

That info comes from ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft, which entered orbit around Venus in April 2006 prior to being crashed into Earth in December 2014.

We already knew that Venus has a bizarre super-rotation, where its winds can rotate 60 times faster in the world. However, it appears that on the other hand, this procedure is even more chaotic than on the day side.

“This study challenges our current understanding of climate modelling and, particularly, the super-rotation, which is a vital phenomenon found at Venus,” said Håkan Svedhem, ESA Project Scientist for Venus Express, in a announcement.

This mosaic illustrates the atmospheric super-rotation at the upper clouds of Venus. While the super-rotation is present in both day and night sides of Venus, it seems more uniform in the day (AKATSUKI-UVI image at 360 nm, right side), while in the night this seems to become more irregular and unpredictable (composite of Venus Express/VIRTIS images at 3.8 µm, left). Credit: ESA, JAXA, J. Peralta and R. Hueso

The team found that night side clouds form large, irregular patterns, dominated by waves that seem to stand still in the air, called stationary waves. In January this year, a huge stationary wave was seen on Venus from the Akatsuki spacecraft, stretching for over 10,000 km (6,200 miles).

They discovered they did not proceed with the air, an unexpected discovery that was later verified by Akatsuki.

Stationary waves are considered to form over mountainous or other high-elevation areas. Weirdly though, in this information static waves were missing in the intermediate and lower cloud levels, up to approximately 50 km (31 miles) above the surface.

“We expected to get these waves at the lower levels because we see them at the top levels, and we believed that they climbed up through the cloud in the surface,” co-author Ricardo Hueso of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, from the announcement. “It is an unexpected result for certain, and we will all need to reevaluate our versions of Venus to explore its significance.”

Akatsuki is continuing to orbit Venus, so it could have the ability to shed some light on some of the bizarre things happening with the planet. With the passing of Cassini now, Venus is currently one of just 3 planets apart from Earth — the others being Mars and Jupiter — that have a human spacecraft in orbit.