A research group working in Japan have discovered a unique pattern that has formed within the clouds of the planet Venus after an analysis was performed on this massive structure from the spacecraft Akatsuki. The new study on Venus’ clouds was headed up by Project Assistant Professor Hiroki Kashimura from Kobe University and demonstrated how these clouds came into being after climate simulations were performed.
As Phys.org reports, the skies of Venus are normally flooded with massive clouds of sulfuric acid which hover above the planet at a range of between 27 to 45 miles. These clouds make it extremely cumbersome to observe the surface of Venus through telescopes here on Earth or even from orbiters close to Venus. And with temperatures on the planet itself observed to be in the range of 460 degrees Celsius (860 degrees Fahrenheit), sending probes to visit the surface of the planet is also problematic too.
To learn more about the mysterious atmosphere of Venus, Akatsuki has been orbiting the planet since 2015, using its IR2 infrared camera. This very special camera is able to fully observe the morphology of clouds on Venus that are situated along the lower levels of the planet.
Before the spacecraft Akatsuki began observing Venus, researchers created a program known as AFES-Venus which performed a wide variety of different simulations on the atmosphere of the planet. However, it has been very difficult to confirm the results of these simulations owing to the fact that no direct observation of Venus is possible.
Yet these simulations did demonstrate polar temperature structures and superrotational winds, and thanks to the Earth Simulator, which was built by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), numerical simulations could also be conducted, and these had an incredibly high spatial resolution.
With the IR2 camera onboard the Akatsuki spacecraft grabbing two phenomenal shots of the lower cloud levels found above Venus, massive streaks can be seen shooting throughout both the southern and hemispheres of the planet, and some of these streaks were found to stretch for more than 6,000 miles. These patterns have been given the name “planetary-scale streak structure.”
“Through detailed analyses of the AFES-Venus simulation results, the team revealed the origin of this giant streak structure. The key to this structure is a phenomenon closely connected to Earth’s everyday weather: polar jet streams. In mid and high latitudes of Earth, a large-scale dynamics of winds (baroclinic instability) forms extratropical cyclones, migratory high-pressure systems, and polar jet streams. The results of the simulations showed the same mechanism at work in the cloud layers of Venus, suggesting that jet streams may be formed at high latitudes.”
The new study on the massive pattern of clouds that have formed above Venus has been published in Nature Communications.