While Venus is the planet in the solar system that has the most in common with Earth, new data suggests a major difference when it comes to the length of days.
What Did Researchers Learn About Venus?
Researchers say that unique bulge in Venus' mountains interacts with its atmosphere. The result is that the length of a day on Venus could be altered by up to two minutes.
The findings were published in a study in Nature Geoscience on June 18.
Currently, scientists believe that a full rotation on Venus takes 243 Earth days, and there is a 225-day orbit around the Sun. Venus, which spins in the opposite direction of Earth, has odd mountain ranges with the wind flowing in different directions. The result is a force that changes the gravity wave of Venus.
The winds on Venus can be as fast as 250 miles per hour, which is a process called a "superrotation." The waves change Venus's rotation, which causes atmospheric fluctuations. As a result, Venus spins at different speeds. Without a constant speed, the length of a day could change.
How Did Researchers Discover This Aspect About Venus?
Akatsuki, a spacecraft sent by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, captured images of Venus in 2015. These images provided clues into the bow-shaped structure in the clouds and the mountain wave. From there, researchers were able to determine that a gravity wave caused by the winds is running up against the mountains.
They conducted computer simulations based on the data in space. When taking into account the presence of the waves, researchers discovered that it forces the lengths of days to change on Venus. One aspect absent from the research is the reason behind the odd planetary rotation of Venus.
How Will This Information Help Scientists?
This study could help provide more insight into the weather on Venus and the structure of its atmosphere. In turn, this information could be used to help scientists learn about other weather-related issues on Earth.
One thing that is still missing from the research is the measurement of the exact change in time experienced on Venus. This study relied heavily on a computer simulation that is partially based on the rotation of Earth. More research will be required to gain a full understanding of Venus.