Feeds

Astronomers peel back layers of Cloudy Venus

New pics from ESA

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The latest images sent back by Venus Express have given scientists greater insight into the underlying mechanics of the planet's mysterious cloud system.

Equipped with state of the art infrared imaging kit, as it is, Venus Express can peer through the incredibly dense cloud covering, peeling back layer after layer of the turbulent atmosphere.

The winds on Venus are so fast they circumnavigate the planet in just four (Earth) days. By contrast, the planet's day is longer than its own year.

Clouds of Venus. Credit: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA

These four images were acquired on 24 September 2006 by the Ultraviolet, Visible and Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on board ESA's Venus Express, from distances of about 65,000 kilometres (top left), 60,000 km (top right), 53,000 km (bottom left), and 37,000 (bottom right) from the planet's surface.

The shots were taken on the night side of the planet at a wavelength of 1.7 microns, and so reveal fairly deep atmospheric layers.

Being able to view the night side of the planet is extremely important. Some cloud formations are thought to be caused by the strong solar radiation hitting the planet on the day side. This would heat the atmosphere, creating masses of up-welling air that generate local turbulence.

But on the night side, there is no solar flux. Despite this, the cloud formations are very similar, so scientists are trying to work out whether a mechanism other than convection is responsible for the formations on both the day and night side of the planet.

Another area of investigation is a possible link between the surface topography and cloud formation. The area in the above images is close to the equator, over a region known as Alpha Regio. This is a very topographically chaotic region of the planet, with lots of ridges, faults and high (up to 4000 metres) mountainous features. The researchers are keen to find out of a link between the surface and the skies does exist. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.