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Venus has always been a mysterious planet.
While the surface of Mars can be clearly seen through a telescope, the surface of Venus is invisible due to being buried under a thick layer of clouds. This means that Venus can only be studied properly with spacecraft, not telescopes. Recently, the Japanese space exploration agency has found some new information about the strange weather found on the planet.
Mysterious weather patterns discovered on Venus
Unlike the Earth, Venus rotates very slowly. A day on Venus lasts for more than six months. One side of the planet always faces the sun and is continuously heated, the other side is dark and constantly cooled. The difference in temperature between one side of the planet and the other causes some interesting weather patterns that were not known until recently.
Before the recent Japanese mission, it was already known that very fast winds exist on Venus, which can travel more than sixty times faster than the planet’s rotation. The recent mission, however, proves that the winds are even more chaotic on the dark side of the planet than on the bright side. The movements of the winds and clouds on the dark side of the planet go against our current understanding of weather physics. Clouds on the dark side of Venus often form enormous waves which are up to 6,000 miles long and which often stay in the same place for long periods of time. These are known as stationary waves, which until recently were not known. The cloud formations, for reasons that we do not yet understand, do not move with the atmosphere. Since the night side of Venus is too dark to see with an ordinary telescope, infrared imaging technology was used to study it.
The first missions to Venus occurred in the early 1970s, and the planet has been observed up close many times since then. A European space agency visit to the planet may occur in the near future, and possibly shed some light on the mysterious weather patterns that defy climate modeling as we understand it.