For the first time ever, scientists are studying Venus’ mysterious night side, and have found that it’s vastly different from its day side.
SPACE (Next Media) – For the first time ever, scientists are studying Venus’ mysterious night side, and have found that it’s vastly different from its day side.
It takes Venus 225 days to revolve around the sun, and 243 days to fully rotate on its axis. As a result, “night” and “day” on the planet last a longer time than on Earth.
So far, the day side has been studied extensively, but the night side has been notoriously difficult to observe, until now.
According to the European Space Agency, Venus’ atmosphere consists of strong winds blowing 60 times faster than the planet’s rotation. This super-rotation has been assumed to be uniform in both sides, but new data from the Venus Express spacecraft shows the winds are more chaotic and irregular on the night side.
Night side clouds formed large, wavy, filament-like patterns not seen in day clouds, and are dominated by stationary waves, which remain still and do not move with the atmosphere.
Stationary waves were thought to form specifically over steep, mountainous areas, but were recently detected in the planet’s southern hemisphere – an area with low elevation.
The waves were likewise assumed to be rising up through the cloud from the surface, but were mysteriously missing from the lower and intermediate cloud levels.
Scientists have yet to explore what this means, but will likely need to come up with new, updated models of Venus to help them figure it out.