Super-Hurricane-Force Winds On Venus Are Getting Stronger


Venus cloud tops. Credit: ESA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Venus cloud tops. Credit: ESA/MPS/DLR/IDA

As the closest planet to Earth, Venus is a relatively easy object to observe. However, many mysteries remain, not least the super-rotation of Venus’ atmosphere, which enables high altitude winds to circle the planet in only four days. Now images of cloud features sent back by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter have revealed that these remarkably rapid winds are becoming even faster.

Similar in size to Earth, Venus has an extremely dense, carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere and the planet’s surface is completely hidden by a blanket of bland, yellowish cloud. Only at ultraviolet wavelengths (and to a lesser extent in the infrared) do striking cloud streaks and individual cells emerge, due to the presence of some unknown UV absorber in the cloud deck.

By tracking the movements of these distinct cloud features, observers have been able to measure the super-hurricane-force winds that sweep around the planet at the cloud tops, some 70 km above the scorching volcanic plains.

Full Story: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=51937
Also: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Venus_Express/The_fast_winds_of_Venus_are_getting_faster

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  1. zachandclem
    June 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Space is so AWESOME

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