A Japanese spacecraft revealed the traces that may have been left behind on Venus as a large gravity wave may have hit and left a dent on our neighbor’s atmosphere.
Besides Mars, Venus is our closest planetary neighbor. Some consider the latter to be quite alike to our planet. It is known to have been called Earth’s “sister planet”. They are similar in mass, bulk composition, and size. But the two’s likeness falls somewhat short besides that.
Venus is one of our solar system’s strangest planets. For example, it rotates in an opposite direction. It’s got no natural satellites. And that are just its surface differences. Recently, a Japanese spacecraft revealed another.
JAXA is behind the Akatsuki spacecraft. JAXA is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The spacecraft reached its targeted orbit in December 2015. And as it started taking pictures, it revealed a fact.
Venus’s atmosphere is marked by a large gravity wave. More exactly, the planet’s top cloud layer. Longwave infrared images revealed the following fact. The planet sports a stationery bow-shaped feature.
This stretches over about 6,200 miles. It could basically draw a connection line between the planet’s two poles. Its position situates it against Venus’ upper atmosphere. This latter is characterized by fast-moving cloud formations.
More details about the unusual feature were released earlier this week. A team of Japanese scientists took to studying it. Their results were published on Monday in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Released on January 16, the study is titled as follows. “Large stationary gravity waves in the atmosphere of Venus”.
Such waves are reportedly not an uncommon phenomenon. Earth’s atmosphere was seen to have a few of its own. But the large gravity wave on Venus could offer some clues. It could be used to determine what actually lies beneath the planet’s cloud tops.
Venus is covered by a thick layer of sulfuric acid clouds. These are very opaque. And also highly reflective. As such, scientists have been unable to see past its layers. The planet also has one of the densest atmospheres from its group.
Gravity waves are different from gravitational waves. The former form in a planet’s atmosphere. They appear when wind flows horizontally across the planet’s surface. In its path, it might be confronted with an obstacle. This may be anything from a mountain range to a highland.
The obstacle will force the wind to change directions. It will most likely push it towards a vertical flow. As such, it will be able to flow over the surface’s feature.
More simply put, it’s like a ripple. Some researchers explain it as being similar to a water stream. As it flows over rocks, it ripples.
The Japanese researchers offered some details. According to them, a large gravity wave stumbled over Aphrodite Terra. This latter is a massive highland region. It is situated near Venus’s Equator line. And the detected bow-shaped wave is aligned with it.
Previous research had already discovered traces of gravity waves. These were spotted by both NASA and ESA missions. ESA or the European Space Agency had a Venus Express mission. This ended back in 2015.
And NASA’s 1994 Magellan mission used radar technology. Thanks to it, science could pierce Venus’s thick atmosphere.
Still, this large gravity wave has some special features. More exactly, it’s very size. And the fact that it is immobile. One of study researchers stated as follows. The large gravity wave stayed in the almost exact same geographical position. And it kept it for around four days.
At the time, in its background, it had an atmospheric super-rotation. And the thermal structure in itself is huge.
Research consider it the first evidence of low atmosphere effects on the high one. More exactly, they believe that the large gravity wave propagated from the low to the middle atmosphere. And from there, to the top one.
This is the first evidence of its type. And it also opens up a new road. Scientists could now study low and middle atmosphere features. And do so by just looking at Venus’s high atmosphere. It could offer a crucial, new help.
If the method proves helpful, it might open up a new research method for all planets. It might even help us better understand our own planet’s atmosphere.
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