Venus Is Much Colder At The Poles Than Previously Thought

We know more of Venus now thanks to the interpretation of data collected by the Venus Express probe of the The European Space Agency’s (ESA).

NASA / JPL
Venus compared to the Earth: their sizes are very similar. Photo credits: NASA / JPL.

The Venus Express probe was sent by the ESA to glean information concerning Venus; it spent 8 years fulfilling its mission, but it went offline back in 2014. Thankfully, its last group of data was transmitted to us. The new knowledge has revealed much about Venus.

The atmosphere of Venus at its poles is much colder and less dense than scientists had previously thought. Furthermore, strong atmospheric waves have been documented in these regions like never before.

The average temperature of the polar regions is around -157 degrees Celsius — this is about 70 degrees lower than the previous calculations of researchers. How does this happen when Venus is the hottest (462 degrees Celsius) known planet in our solar system, even surpassing Mercury?

Another surprising discovery is that its atmosphere is 22 to 40% less dense than expected at the poles. How is this possible when the planet which is so close to the sun has a dense, heat-trapping cloud layer (which also accounts for its hot temperature)?

“The existing model paints an overly simplistic picture of Venus’s upper atmosphere,” says the lead author of the new paper, Ingo Müller-Wodarg, from the Imperial College London. “These lower densities could be at least partly due to Venus’ polar vortices, which are strong wind systems sitting near the planet’s poles. Atmospheric winds may be making the density structure both more complicated and more interesting!”

Yet another peculiar aspect of the planet is the group of strong atmospheric waves that travel in a vertical direction instead of horizontally.

It appears that Venus holds more mystery than we would have thought. Full of apparent paradoxes, it has much to reveal to us —but, question is, will it?

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