Topic: Mystery of Night Weather on Venus Revealed for the First Time
Scientists find out what the nighttime weather is like on Venus. They also revealed these findings for the first time.
In a new study, researchers found a new way to use infrared sensors on Japan’s Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki, a spacecraft that arrived in orbit around Venus in 2015.
Quoted from Space.com, Akatsuki helps reveal what the weather on the planet is like at night. The sensors found the appearance of night clouds and some strange wind circulation patterns.
Like Earth, Venus is located in the “habitable zone” of our Sun, has a solid surface and a weathered atmosphere. To understand the planet’s weather, the researchers studied the movement of clouds in infrared light.
However, although Venus’s atmosphere rotates rapidly, the planet itself has the slowest rotation of any major planet in our solar system, meaning day and night last quite a bit, about 120 Earth days each.
Until now, only the weather on the “day side” of Venus was easy to observe because it was difficult to clearly see the night side of Venus even in infrared. There have been infrared observations of the “night side” of Venus, but this study has not been able to clearly show the planet’s nighttime weather.
“The small-scale cloud patterns in the immediate image are dimmed and often indistinguishable from noise in the background,” said co-author Takeshi Imamura, professor in the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences at the University of Tokyo.
“To see detail, we needed to suppress noise. In astronomy and planetary science, it’s common to combine images to do this, because real features in a stack of similar images quickly hide noise.”
However, Imamura said that Venus is a special case because the entire weather system rotates very quickly. So they compensate for this motion, known as super-rotation, to highlight formations that are interesting to study.
With this new analytical method, the team observed north-south winds at night and found something quite odd. “What’s surprising is that they run in the opposite direction to their comrades during the day,” said Imamura.
“Such dramatic changes cannot occur without significant consequences. These observations can help us build more accurate models of the Venusian weather system that will hopefully answer some long-standing, unresolved questions about Venus’ weather and possibly Earth’s weather,” he added.
Using this new method, the researchers think that future studies could reveal new details about the weather on other planets such as Mars or even our own planet Earth.