(ORDO NEWS) — The second planet in the solar system, Venus, is a difficult place to explore. Few missions have made it to the surface, in no small part because of how difficult it is to traverse its atmosphere.
This difficulty was recently confirmed by a team of researchers from the University of Lisbon, who found that Venus’s upper atmosphere is plagued by hurricane-force winds of up to 360 kilometers per hour.
What is even more impressive is the speed of 150 kilometers per hour more than in the lower atmosphere. Dr. Pedro Machado and his team argue that the difference in wind speeds can be directly related to the heat engine on the surface of Venus, which is typically 460 degrees Celsius.
All of this energy can affect wind speed, but wind speeds don’t get as high at lower altitudes and at lower and higher latitudes. Differentiating these speeds was one of the unique parts of this study.
To do this, the researchers used data collected by two different Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) instruments and the Venus Express probe.
The data was collected back in July 2012, when TNG studied the wind speed in the lower atmosphere on the night side of Venus in the infrared from Earth, and Venus Express studied the cloud tops on the day side. as it revolved around the planet.
This was not the first time the wind speed at the bottom of the cloud cover had been studied, and from previous observations and computer models, the researchers knew that the speed would be the same day and night.
So, combining this knowledge with direct measurements from TNG and Venus Express, they found a huge difference in wind speed at different heights.
These differences will influence the design of the next generation of Venus explorers, which we have reported on several times. Of particular interest to the team is EnVision, which will contain an infrared spectrograph tuned to specific wavelengths depending on the atmospheric conditions currently being studied.
However, before the launch of EnVision, there are even more opportunities to learn about the atmosphere of Venus. This will include a collaboration between the ground-based telescope and Akatsuki, the JAXA probe currently orbiting Venus.
The updated information could not only provide more insight into what challenges a future Venus lander might face, but also help guide design decisions for a craft that will stay clear of any atmospheric hurricanes.
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