Recent observations by the Akatsuki spacecraft and ground-based telescopes have revealed unexpected characteristics of the clouds on Venus. These clouds, which are composed of sulfuric acid, cover the entire planet and have long been known to move quickly in the atmosphere. However, researchers were surprised to find that some of these clouds appear to be stationary, remaining fixed in place despite the strong winds in the Venusian atmosphere.
Additionally, some of the clouds appear to be much brighter and more reflective than expected, which may indicate the presence of an unknown chemical process occurring in the atmosphere. These unexpected features of the Venusian clouds have prompted scientists to study them more closely in order to better understand the complex dynamics of this neighboring planet’s atmosphere.
Astronomers focus on the “tsunami” of Venus
Scientists from the University of Seville and the University of the Basque Country have conducted the first detailed study of the discontinuity of Venus’s clouds, as Phys.org reveals. The discontinuity is a giant atmosphere wave with the appearance of a “tsunami” that propagates in the planet’s deepest clouds and is believed to play a significant role in the acceleration of Venus’s fast-moving atmosphere.
The study, which involved non-stop observations for over 100 days, was made possible through collaboration with amateur astronomers worldwide.
The ultraviolet images taken by the UVI camera on board the Akatsuki mission have revealed an unexpected event, showing that the discontinuity was able to propagate to roughly 70 km above the surface of our neighboring planet Venus. This is unexpected because until now, the discontinuity was thought to be “trapped” in the deepest clouds.
The Akatsuki images not only suggest that the discontinuity may have propagated to Venus’s upper clouds but also help to explain the reasons for this displacement. The winds in the high clouds were found to be unusually slow in the first six months of 2022, several times slower than the discontinuity itself, which allowed it to propagate to higher altitudes.