Space-based infrared images show wind blowing BACKWARDS on Venus at night

According to weather forecasts made using space-based infrared images, the wind blows backwards at night on “Earth’s Evil Twin” sister planet Venus.

This is the first time weather patterns have been ‘clearly’ observed on Venus at night, as observations on Earth of the night side of the hellish planet are difficult.

Earth and Venus have a lot in common because they are in the same orbital region, known as the habitable zone, capable of supporting liquid water and possibly life.

Not only are they similar in size and mass, but both have solid surfaces and narrow atmospheres with different weather patterns, at one point Venus had liquid water.

Observing the weather patterns on a planet at night can be very difficult without direct sunlight, but the Japanese team took infrared observations from an orbiter and then worked to suppress the noise and stack several images on top of each other to get a clear picture. to get.

Using the Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki probe, scientists at the University of Tokyo found that night winds run in the opposite direction to the daytime winds on Venus.

Researchers think the dayside polar-toward circulation and the newly discovered nighttime equatorial circulation could fuel the planet-wide superrotation, the savage east-west circulation of the entire equatorial weather system.

They hope this observation will enable astronomers to create more accurate models of Venusian, which could also help understand Earth’s weather patterns.

The three main weather patterns on Venus. Researchers think the dayside polar-toward circulation and newly discovered nocturnal equatorial circulation could fuel the planet-wide superrotation that dominates the surface of Venus

Observing weather patterns on a planet at night can be very difficult without direct sunlight, but the Japanese team took infrared observations from an orbiter and then worked to suppress the noise and stack several images on top of each other to get a clear picture. to get

Observing weather patterns on a planet at night can be very difficult without direct sunlight, but the Japanese team took infrared observations from an orbiter and then worked to suppress the noise and stack several images on top of each other to get a clear picture. to get

VENUS: THE BASE

Venus, the second planet from the sun, is a rocky planet about the same size and mass as Earth.

However, the atmosphere is radically different from ours: It consists of 96 percent carbon dioxide and has a surface temperature of 464 °C and a pressure 92 times that on Earth.

The inhospitable planet is shrouded in clouds of sulfuric acid that make its surface impossible to glimpse through the visible light spectrum.

In the past, Venus likely had oceans similar to Earth’s — but these would have evaporated when it experienced a runaway greenhouse effect.

The surface of Venus is a dry desert landscape, which changes periodically due to volcanic activity.

The planet has no moons and orbits the sun every 224.7 Earth days.

Scientists know very little about the weather at night on Venus, or any other planet in the solar system.

This is due to the absence of sunlight, which makes imaging difficult.

Now, researchers have devised a way to use infrared sensors aboard the Venus orbiter Akatsuki to reveal the first details of Venus’ nighttime weather.

Their analytical methods can be used to study other planets as well, including Mars and gas giants.

The methods may also enable researchers to understand more about the mechanisms underlying Earth’s weather systems by studying and comparing those of other worlds.

To achieve this goal, researchers must observe cloud movements on Venus day and night at wavelengths of infrared light.

Until now, however, only the weather on the daylight side was easily accessible.

Previously, some limited infrared observations of nighttime weather were possible, but these were too limited to paint a clear picture of general weather on Venus.

Enter Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki and its infrared cameras.

Launched in 2010, it is the first Japanese probe to orbit another planet, aiming to observe Venus and its weather system using a variety of instruments aboard the spacecraft.

Akatsuki carried an infrared camera that doesn’t rely on the sun’s illumination to see, but even this couldn’t directly resolve the details on the night side of Venus.

It did give researchers the data they needed to see things indirectly, which could then be expanded to get a clearer picture.

“Small-scale cloud patterns in the direct images are faint and often indistinguishable from background noise,” said Professor Takeshi Imamura of the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences.

“To see details, we had to suppress the sound,” Professor Imamura explained.

‘In astronomy and planetary science, it is common to combine images for this, because real features in a stack of similar images quickly hide the noise.

Data from the Venus orbiter Akatsuki can be seen here, showing for the first time the thermal signatures of clouds on the planet's night side

Data from the Venus orbiter Akatsuki can be seen here, showing for the first time the thermal signatures of clouds on the planet’s night side

NEW MISSIONS TO VENUS

NASA and the European Space Agency recently announced three missions to Venus over the next few years.

NASA announced its two new $500 million missions in early June, which will be launched over the next 10 years to understand how Venus “became an inferno-like world.”

Just over a week later, the ESA said it will send a probe known as EnVision to study “Earth’s evil twins,” aiming for a launch in the early 2030s.

“However, Venus is a special case because the entire weather system spins very quickly, so we had to compensate for this movement, known as superrotation, to highlight formations of interest for study.”

Graduate student Kiichi Fukuya developed a technique to overcome this difficulty.

Superrotation is an important meteorological phenomenon that we don’t get here on Earth, Fukuya explained.

It’s the savage east-west circulation of the entire weather system around the equator, minimizing any extreme winds we might experience at home.

Imamura and his team are investigating mechanisms that support this superrotation and believe that features of Venusian weather at night may help explain it.

‘We are finally able to observe the north-south wind, the meridional circulation, at night. What’s surprising is that these run in the opposite direction to their daytime counterparts,” Imamura said.

‘Such a drastic change cannot take place without significant consequences.

They hope this observation will enable astronomers to create more accurate models of Venusian, which could also help understand Earth's weather patterns.

They hope this observation will enable astronomers to create more accurate models of Venusian, which could also help understand Earth’s weather patterns.

“This observation could help us build more accurate models of the Venusian weather system that will hopefully solve some longstanding, unanswered questions about Venusian weather and probably Earth weather as well.”

The US space agency NASA recently announced two new missions to explore Venus with the DaVinci+ and Veritas probes, and the European space agency also announced a new Venus mission called EnVision.

Combined with Akatsuki’s observational abilities, Imamura and his team hope they will soon be able to explore the Venusian climate, not only in its present form, but also in its geological history, up to a time when it was more “terrestrial.”

Their findings were published in the journal Nature.

CARBON DIOXIDE AND SULFURIC ACID DROPS IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF VENUS

The atmosphere of Venus is mostly carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets.

The thick atmosphere traps heat from the sun, resulting in surface temperatures over 470 °C (880 °F).

The atmosphere has many layers with different temperatures.

At the level where the clouds are, about 50 km above the surface, it is about the same temperature as on the Earth’s surface.

As Venus moves forward in its orbit around the sun as it slowly spins backward on its axis, the highest level of clouds zips around the planet every four Earth days.

They are powered by hurricane-force winds at about 224 miles (360 km) per hour.

Atmospheric lightning bolts illuminate these fast-moving clouds.

Speeds in the clouds decrease with the height of the clouds, and on the surface they are estimated to be only a few miles (km) per hour.

On the ground, it would look like a very hazy, cloudy day on Earth, and the atmosphere is so heavy it’s like you’re a mile deep under water.

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