Using Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, scientists from Rikkyo University in Tokyo have found a large structure in Venus’ atmosphere.
Published in Nature Geoscience, researchers describe a stationary wave spreading across a large region of 10,000 kilometers or 6,200 miles. Located in the upper atmosphere of Venus, the cloud reportedly did not move for a few days rather it remained motionless above a mountains region of the planet.
The structure was located using images from Akatsuki that we taken between December 7 and 11, 2015.
Right now, the composition of this wave is undefined. It’s possible it was a wave produced by air flowing over a mountain plain, producing a hot-cool flow where air tries to balance itself out – similar to what we see on Earth. This is known as a gravity wave.
Dr. Makoto Taguchi from Rikkyo University in Japan goes on to detail the find in a call with IFLscience:
“This is the first evidence of gravity wave propagation from the lower atmosphere to the middle atmosphere [of Venus].There may exist a mechanism of gravity wave generation like a mountain wave or a thermal tide, which are found in the terrestrial atmosphere,” he said. “To answer this question we need more data that covers all local times and longitudes.”
Venus’s atmosphere is too thick for our technology to penetrate it’s upper atmosphere, which means this structure will remain a mystery, for now. We can see through to the surface using Infrared, but no such views were pointed towards this structure in the given time frame.
Over the next few years results are expected to come from the Akatsuki probe detailing weather on the planet, and surface level details such as volcanoes.