- The focus of the research is to discover why the atmosphere of Venus rotates 60 times faster than the surface of our planet.
- The work is a collaboration between US and Japanese researchers.
- The Akatsuki probe was utilized to complete the research.
A new research paper has been published related to Venus. It is collaborative work between US and Japanese scientists. The main focus of the research is to answer a question that has been unanswered until now: Why does the atmosphere of Venus rotate 60 times faster than the surface of the planet? At the Earth’s equator, the speed of Earth’s spin is about 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 km per hour).
Venus makes one revolution around its axis in 243 earth days, but its atmosphere rotates much faster. The speed of this movement increases with altitude and reaches a maximum in the cloud layer tens of kilometers above the surface. The local layer of gas makes one revolution around the axis of the planet in just four earth days. That is, it rotates 60 (!) times faster than the surface of the celestial body.
By definition a celestial body is any natural body outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Easy examples are the Moon, Sun, and the other planets of our solar system. But those are very limited examples. The Kuiper belt contains many celestial bodies. Any asteroid in space is a celestial body.
It is proven that one day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days. Hence, the daytime hemisphere has time to heat up, especially since Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth.
The research work entailed processing images of the cloud layer of Venus obtained by infrared and ultraviolet cameras of the Japanese Akatsuki probe, also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter and Planet-C, a Japanese space probe tasked to study the atmosphere of Venus.
The researchers developed a new highly accurate method for tracking individual clouds. This allowed them to measure wind speeds at various latitudes. In addition, experts have noticed a suspiciously small difference between the temperature of the “air” at the equator and the poles of the celestial body. From this, they concluded that powerful constant winds were blowing in the direction of the meridians of Venus.
The full research report is titled “How waves and turbulence maintain the super-rotation of Venus’ atmosphere.”
In addition, a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide creates a powerful greenhouse effect.
Gas, heated at the hot surface, rises up. There, these masses expand upward and sideways. As a result, on the day side of the planet, the atmosphere becomes thicker, but less dense. The gas shell of the planet seems to stretch out towards the Sun. This phenomenon is known as a heat tide, similar to the normal gravitational tide, which is responsible for a similar effect.
The work is a big step toward modelling the atmospheres of other planets. NASA’s new space agenda will present opportunities to understand more about the workings of other planets. This research helps future missions to have better execution and collaboration.