Published: Fri, January 20, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jose Becker

Japan's Akatsuki Spies Massive Wave on Venus

Japan's Akatsuki Spies Massive Wave on Venus

The Japanese probe Akatsuki has observed a massive gravity wave in the atmosphere of Venus.

Prior to this study, scientists didn't believe that gravity waves could propagate this high up into the atmosphere, thinking they'd be confined to the lower atmosphere. The unusual structure was located about 65km (40 miles) above the surface, stretching about 10,000-km (6,214-miles). Usually clouds in that region move at about 100 meters (328 feet) per second, whereas this cloud is stationary compared to the planet's rotation.

Venus, despite the insane fast winds on its atmosphere, actually rotates painfully slow - slower than the amount of days it takes to complete its orbit.

Gravity waves occur on planets, even Earth.

It measured 10,000km in length and was brighter and hotter than the surrounding atmosphere.

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The European Space Agency also investigated the role of mountains in disturbing Venus' atmosphere in 2016. The cloud-top temperatures show stationary nature of the bow relative to the surface topography. At the surface of the stream, you will see it as changes in height. The atmosphere consists chiefly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur dioxide.

"Although smaller scale gravity waves have been seen near to ground level on Venus before, the scale of this new feature seems to be extremely large, probably the largest in the solar system", writes University College London physics professor Andrew Coates, who did not participate in the research, in The Conversation.

A bow-shaped structure which spanned nearly 10,000 kilometres across Venus appeared for several days after a Japanese probe arrived at Earth's nearest neighbour in 2015 and then vanished nearly as soon as it came about.

On this point Dr Wilson told BBC News: "I think we should give them stretches nearly from pole to pole, which is phenomenal in distance". The most common way to trigger a vertical wave is by putting something in the way of surface winds, like a mountain. The phenomenon happens when there is a disturbance in the planet's atmosphere. Based on observations from the now-finished Venus Express mission, scientists found that air filled with water vapor rises up from the lower atmosphere as it moves over the planet's mountains and creates gravity waves. Recently, another one of these mysterious space objects has been spotted on Venus. If it did shift from the lower to upper atmosphere, there may be more going on near the surface of the planet than scientists previously thought. "The fact that Akatsuki is there for another couple of years equipped with the right sort of cameras, they could detect more of these potential active volcanic events", Dr Wilson told BBC News.

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