Venus is often called as a sibling to Earth owing to the few similarities both the planets share. Both the planets have a similar size and volume. However, Venus has an atmosphere made of Sulphuric acid making it completely in contrast with the atmosphere of planet Earth. Not to forget the surface at 456 degrees Celsius that the planet holds.
The planet has been under observation since the 16th century, and it’s very likely to believe that every bit of Venus is known to mankind. Though, a Spanish researcher Javier Peralta, working at JAXA (Japanese space agency), led a study in which a surprising new discovery about our neighbouring planet has popped up. Research regarding the same atmospheric feature has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.
In the research, clouds of acid moving at an astounding speed (as close to that of a commercial jet) have been spotted just bellow Venus’ atmosphere. These clouds are unlikely to be found in any other planet of the solar system and have been whipping around the planet for nearly 5 days now.
Peralta, who was first to notice the waves, in JAXA’s news post said, “this atmospheric disruption is a new meteorological phenomenon, unseen on other planets”.
Initially, when the clouds were noticed, researchers thought they resemble an “atmospheric wave” except it covers almost the entire planet. The acid clouds loom approximately 50 kilometres below the cloud tops and can be as extensive as 7,500 kilometres covering the equator and mid-latitudes of the planet.
The researchers had to take to the archival footage collected over decades to determine since when these clouds have been sweeping across the planet.
In a statement, Pedro Machado co-author of the study said, “We needed access to a large, growing and scattered collection of images of Venus gathered in recent decades with different telescopes”.
Archived footage was called in from many observatories including NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (Hawaii) and Galileo National Telescope (Canary Island). As per the footage, the clouds have been lurking around the atmosphere since at least three decades ie. 1983.
Spacecrafts have been visiting the planet occasionally since 1962 and not to forget the high-resolution that were used to observe the planet for years before the visits. Hence, such a huge feature going undiscovered for such a long duration of time seems quite strange. Nevertheless, these findings by the researchers are definitely going to help answer a lot of other questions about Venus.
The acid clouds were found in a region that is accountable for the greenhouse effect making Venus’ surface temperature so high. The wave-like nature could also help understand how the atmosphere and surface of the planet connect.
According to Javier Peralta, “ provided that this disruption is not visible at 70 kilometres height where the cloud tops are, confirming its wave nature would be of critical importance”.
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