One of the most mysterious aspects of Venus is its atmospheric “super rotation,” which allows the planet’s atmosphere to rate 60 times faster than the solid planet itself. Now, scientists say they may have found one of the major catalysts for that super rotation: a 4,700-mile-long wave in the atmosphere that’s been pulsing around Venus at 200 mph for the last 37 years.
Futurism reported on the finding, which was outlined in a paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters. Javier Peralta, a Spanish researcher working at the Japanese space agency, JAXA, led the study. Peralta was also the first to spot the atmospheric wave.
“This atmospheric disruption is a new meteorological phenomenon, unseen on other planets,” Peralta said in a JAXA news post. The researcher added that “Because of this it is yet difficult to provide a confident physical interpretation.”
Despite that lack of confidence, Peralta says this is a recurrent phenomenon that has gone unnoticed since at least 1983. The researchers also know that the atmospheric wave occurs roughly 30 miles above Venus’ (870 °F!) surface, and extends across the planet’s equator. It’s also known that the atmospheric wave is made of a mix between C02 and sulphuric acid, which is why JAXA refers to it as “a wall of acid clouds.”
Peralta notes that this wave may be the mechanism that transports momentum and energy from the lower to upper atmosphere. If this is the case, the wave would “deposit momentum precisely at the level where [scientists] observe the fastest winds of the so-called atmospheric super-rotation of Venus, whose mechanisms have been a long-time mystery.”
Venus Climate Orbiter "Akatsuki" discovered a planetary-scale cloud discontinuity. The newly discovered phenomenon can sometimes extend as far as 7,500 kilometers, and has been periodically lashing the depths of the thick blanket of Venusian clouds since at least 1983. pic.twitter.com/KfEmDFTiLU— ISAS（JAXA宇宙科学研究所） (@ISAS_JAXA) August 5, 2020
Many mysteries surrounding both the planetary-scale wave, and the Venusian atmosphere, still, of course, remain. Moving forward, researchers will continue to use JAXA’s Akatsuki (a.k.a. the Venus Climate Orbiter) to study the atmospheric wave. Other space agencies, including NASA, are also already performing telescopic observations to assist with the research.
What do you think about this “wall of acid clouds” on Venus? Do you have any idea as to how Venus’ atmosphere generates this insane atmospheric wave? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Kevin Gill