It’s the first time after making studies about clouds and wind of Venus, scientists detect that the night side is really different from the day side.
ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft is the source of this data. This spacecraft entered orbit around Venus in April 2006 before being crashed into the planet in December 2014. Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
As we all know, Venus has a weird super-rotation that caused its winds to rotate 60 times faster than the planet. Hence this process is very chaotic on the night side, but on the day side the matter is normal somehow.
How is this study challenging the current understanding of climate modelling?
In a statement, the ESA Project Scientist for Venus Express Håkan Svedhem says that this study challenges their current understanding of climate modelling and, specifically, the super-rotation, which is a key phenomenon seen at Venus.
From large and irregular patterns, the night side clouds are dominated by waves that appear to stand still in the atmosphere, called stationary waves.
Those are notes of the teamwork, based on their studies about that point.
The Akatsuki spacecraft saw a huge stationary wave in January this year. It’s stretching for more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles).
In this regard, the scientists studied the night side by using data from the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS), they used infrared to study the clouds.
It is a unexpected discovery that they found they didn’t move with the atmosphere. This discovery was later confirmed by Akatsuki.
Scientists think that stationary waves form over mountainous or other high-elevation regions. Up to this data, stationary waves were missing in the intermediate and lower clouds levels, up to about 50 kilometers (31 miles) above the surface. Really, it’s weird, isn’t it?
In a statement, co-author Ricardo Hueso of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain says that they see waves in the upper levels and so, they expected to find them in the lower levels, they, also, thought that the waves rose up through the cloud from the surface.
It’s unexpected result for sure, as he mentions. He adds that they will all need to revisit their models of Venus to explore its meaning.
Some light may be shed on some of the weird things going on with the planet as Akatsuki is continuing to orbit Venus. Today, Venus is now one of only three planets aside from Earth – the others being Mars and Jupiter – that have a human spacecraft in orbit, after the death of Cassini.