A preview of the Venus atmosphere in 3D

Imagem noturna de Vénus obtida no infravermelho

Imagem noturna de Vénus obtida no infravermelho pela sonda Akatsuki (JAXA). Créditos: ISAS, JAXA

The first approach to a three-dimensional reconstruction of the atmospheric circulation of Venus is presented in an review paper co-authored by Pedro Machado, of Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) and Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FCUL).

This study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters, gathers data about wind speed and atmospheric temperature at different heights. The data was collected within roughly a month, and independently, by two space missions, MESSENGER, of NASA, and Venus Express, of ESA, and by several instruments on the ground. This is an important input to the future understanding of what caused and sustains the super-rotation1 of the Venus atmosphere.

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1. The super-rotation of Venus atmosphere is a phenomenon in which, due to the winds parallel to the equator, or zonal winds, the atmosphere circles the planet in just little more than four Earth days, that is, 60 times faster than the rotation period of the solid globe, which is 243 Earth days. As a consequence, the normal wind speed relative to the surface is about 360 km/h.