Venus's Atmosphere Is so Violent It Makes the Planet Spin Faster

Schematic showing the likely mechanism behind the wave

It was first spotted by Japanese Venus orbiter Akatsuki in 2015, and spends days at a time staying perfectly still within Venus's otherwise turbulent atmosphere.

Venus, despite the almost worldly dimensions and chemical composition, is among one of the most unusual planets in the Solar system.

The findings were published in a study in Nature Geoscience on June 18.

But the atmosphere of Venus is quite impressing and speedy because the clouds on top of the Venusian mountains revolves around the planet once every four Earth days. It seems that an interaction between the planet's mountains and its atmosphere could create waves strong enough to change the length of a Venusian day by up to two minutes. When taking into account the presence of the waves, researchers discovered that it forces the lengths of days to change on Venus.

The winds on Venus can be as fast as 250 miles per hour, which is a process called a "superrotation". In such circumstances, the existence of a stable gravitational waves would be impossible. The scientists inferred that this peculiar atmospheric formation could be a faster moving "mountain wave". This explains why the probe "Magellan" and "Venus Express", sent with a difference of 16 years, showed different data - the difference between the results obtained during the two missions, was 7 minutes.

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The incredible wind behind the wave tugs on Venus, the researchers think, speeding up its spin.

The authors of the new work under the direction of tomás Navarro (Navarro Thomas) from the University of California conducted a computer simulation of the General atmospheric circulation of Venus, to determine how her gas are born in the shell of an unusual structure. According to scientists, it represents an extremely stable gravitational wave, formed by the collision of wind with the mountain chains of the planet. This could help explain why scientists have struggled to pin down a precise measurement of a Venusian day.

When discussing space travel, there's a reason we typically focus on Mars and less so on Venus - the second planet in our solar system is utterly inhospitable, with a thick, fast-moving, and toxic atmosphere full of carbon dioxide.

There are other things we don't know about Venus, too, which we could learn by figuring out the precise length of a Venusian day, according to the team. Furthermore, the researchers acknowledged that the model they used has some limits, and the only way to confirm their theory would be to directly observe what goes down in Venus once the weather phenomenon takes place.


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