On night weather from Venus little is known, since the absence of Sun light makes imaging difficult, but now scientists from the Japanese mission Akatsuki They identified a new method capable of unlocking the first climatic secrets of the night from our closest neighbor.
This is the first time that researchers have been able to observe the high clouds on the day and night sides of the planet at the same time and globally. The results are published in the journal “Nature”, in an article signed by the Spanish Javier Peralta.
The climate orbiter Venus Akatsuki was launched in 2010 and its mission is to observe Venus and study its meteorology using a series of instruments on board, some with infrared sensors to reveal details of the nighttime weather of the warmest planet in the world. Solar system.
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Studying the atmosphere of Venus can help to better understand the climate in the Land, recalls in a statement the University of tokyo, and for this the researchers need to analyze the movement of the clouds on the aforementioned planet both day and night at certain wavelengths of the infrared light.
However, until now only the atmospheric weather of the how to diurna, observing clouds when they are illuminated by the Sun. Previously, some infrared observations of the nightside could be made, but “they were too limited to have a clear idea of the general climate on Venus.”
And it is that Venus is a special case, since its atmosphere rotates up to 60 times faster than the planet, so, to carry out its analysis and study the slow north-south atmospheric movements, the team had to compensate for the fast movement that occurs from east to west known as atmospheric superrotation.
To do this, Kiichi Fukuya, the main author of the work, devised a way to process and improve the thermal images of the bolómetro LIR aboard the ship to observe the high clouds of Venus and their movements.
In their observations, something surprising was discovered. Contrary to what had always been seen on the daytime side, with winds from the equator towards the poles, on the night side the opposite happens and winds that go from the poles towards the equator prevail.
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“We can finally observe the winds from north to south, known as the southern circulation, at night. The surprising thing is that they run in the opposite direction to their diurnal counterparts,” Imamura said.
This could solve “some long-unanswered questions about the Venusian climate and probably the Earth’s climate as well,” he suggested.
In this sense, Peralta recalled that one of the biggest concerns today is to know what will happen on Earth as the greenhouse effect and the climate change.
Earth and Venus were born “twin planets” but they evolved very differently: on Venus the greenhouse effect ran rampant until their seas evaporated, turning it into a hell of more than 450 degrees.
“Therefore, Venus and its extreme conditions can give us clues about what could happen on our planet and how to avoid it,” said the researcher, who worked for the Japanese space agency. JAXA.
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Peralta emphasizes that these images are the only ones that allow us to see the clouds on the day and night sides at the same time, and says that the finding that the winds behave differently on both sides “is fascinating.”
“It breaks with the classical view on Venus of a ‘Hadley’ type southern circulation, in which the southern winds in the upper clouds are expected to be also poleward on the night side,” he explained.
“The results confirm that solar tides (planetary waves generated in the atmosphere by solar heating) are an engine that alone maintains the strong winds of Venus”, which can reach 350 kilometers per hour, concluded the expert.