Feeds

Venus Express reveals double-eyed storm at planet's pole

First results looking good

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The first scientific results are already beaming back from the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission.

After spending nine days in an elongated orbit around the planet in April, the spacecraft has confirmed the existence of a huge double vortex atmospheric system at the south pole of the planet.

Venus Express made its observations shortly after arriving at the planet, when it was initially captured into the elongated orbit. This path took it between 350,000km and 400km from the planet's surface, giving scientists the opportunity for both close study, and an extended, but still distant view of the surface.

It has been known for a long time that extremely high speed winds blow westwards around the planet - they take just four days to cover the entire globe. Coupled with the recycling of the very hot atmosphere, this super-rotation is expected to produce a vortex over each pole.

Although previous missions had seen the expected atmospheric disturbances at both poles, only the north pole had been studied in any detail, and the double-eye structure had never been seen before.

"We still know very little about the mechanisms by which the super-rotation and the polar vortexes are linked," ESA Venus Express project scientist Håkan Svedhem said.

"Also, we are still not able to explain why the global atmospheric circulation of the planet results in a double and not single vortex formation at the poles. However, the mission is just at the beginning and it's doing fine; we expect this and many other long-standing mysteries to be addressed and possibly solved by Venus Express."

Venus Express has collected data in the visible, infrared and ultraviolet spectra. Each reveals something new about the planet. The infrared images, for example, reveal more details of the cloud structure than has been seen before, while the ultraviolet views show striking bands in the southern hemisphere's skies. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.