Feeds

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

First results looking good

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.