Giant Structure Discovered In Clouds Of Venus

Posted: Jan 12 2019, 1:02am CST | by , Updated: Jan 12 2019, 1:22am CST, in Latest Science News


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Giant Structure Discovered in Clouds of Venus
The yellow dotted lines highlight the planetary-scale streak structure and show a strong downflow. Credit: Nature Communications

Researchers have discovered a giant streak structure in Venus using observation from the spacecraft Akatsuki.

A team of Japanese researchers has identified a new massive structure in the clouds of Venus. Dubbed planetary-scale streak structure, the pattern is formed in both northern and southern hemispheres and stretches downwards almost 10,000 kilometers across. The structure was first discovered by Japan's Akatsuki spacecraft in 2015 and more recently it has been reconstructed in a program called AFES-Venus. This kind of structure has never been seen on Earth and could be found only in Venus’ atmosphere.

“Recently, a planetary-scale streak structure has been discovered in middle- and lower-cloud images of Venus’ night-side taken by IR2, the 2-μm camera, on board the Akatsuki orbiter. However, its formation mechanism has not been investigated. Here we succeed, for the first time, in reproducing the patterns of the observed streak structure, as regions of strong downward flows that develop in high-resolution global simulations of the Venus atmosphere” Authors wrote in the study.

Venus was once considered Earth’s twin because of their similar size. But once astronomers looked at it more closely, they realized that Venus is very different to our own planet. The planet is extremely hot with surface temperatures up to 460 degrees Celsius. It is surrounded by an incredibly dense atmosphere of mainly carbon dioxide and clouds of sulphuric acid. Studying the surface of Venus is a challenge for researchers due to this thick atmosphere. Therefore, researchers created numerical simulations to reconstruct the atmosphere and cloud formations seen on Venus.

In order to learn more about the planet's weather and surface conditions, Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki also orbited Venus in December 2015. An infrared camera "IR2" onboard spacecraft peered through the dense clouds about 50 km from the surface and revealed the dynamic structure below.

Researchers replicated the giant streak structure found in the lower cloud levels of Venus and suggested that this streak structure is formed from two types of waves, baroclinic instability and jet streams. The similarity between this structure and observations taken by Akatsuki's IR2 camera also confirms the accuracy of high-resolution simulations from the AFES-Venus program.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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