June 23, 2017

A Giant Gravity Wave Has Been Found in Venus' Clouds

18 January 2017, 01:17 | Elizabeth Houston

But the emergence of a colossal bow-shaped structure in the planet's upper atmosphere, captured by the Japanese Akatsuki orbiter, is pretty weird even for Venus.

Regardless of the crawling surface speed, its upper atmosphere whizzes around at a blistering 100 metres per second, encasing the hellish rock in a blur of sulfuric acid clouds. Indeed, the atmospheric bulge is located above Aphrodite Terra, a continent-sized region of highlands.

According to The Verge, the gravity wave might possibly mean that the atmospheric conditions closer to the planet's surface are more variable than predicted. Before Venus flashed its giant sideways smile, scientists didn't think gravity waves could reach so high up in the atmosphere.

Researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science detected the large gravity wave using the Akatsuki spacecraft, according to Gizmodo. "But because Venus Express had a different orbit where it got lots of images of the poles but not of the low latitudes, it never saw a feature like this".

(Winds blast clouds around Venus at approximately 225 miles per hour.) The "wave" shape formed as gravity tugged at and settled the clouds back into their original equilibrium east of the mountains. "This is the first evidence of gravity wave propagation from the lower atmosphere to the middle atmosphere". (This isn't a gravitational wave, which is a ripple in space-time.) We have these waves in Earth's atmosphere, too; they interfere with weather and cause turbulence.

Venus is known both as the "planet of love" and the Earth's "evil twin". Gravity waves are generated at the boundary between the atmosphere and a surface, or between horizontal layers in the atmosphere, when the force of gravity opposes buoyancy (ability to float). "But the air particles are moving up and down, very much as the water particles are moving up and down".

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The satellite captured this vision shortly after entering the planet's orbit, and the wave appeared to stand still for several days.

The findings suggest that the Venusian atmosphere is far more complex than previously thought.

An enormous and ominous stationary object has been identified in Venus' atmosphere.

Illustration of surface winds on Venus being pushed up by a mountain, causing tension in the upper atmosphere that slows the high-altitude winds.

And, Wilson adds, as Venus is nearly the exact same size as Earth and quite a nearby neighbor, studying it could also tell us more about how our own planet's atmospheric system works. The team is uncertain whether this atmospheric feature is common or if it is unique to this set of Venusian mountains.

The readings were taken over a few days in December 2015, shortly after the orbiter arrived at Earth's sister planet.

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