Mysterious gravity wave spotted in atmosphere of Venus

Mysterious gravity wave spotted in atmosphere of Venus

Scientists became baffled after a Japanese spacecraft spotted a huge gravity wave in the upper atmosphere of Venus, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The discovery of the 10,000-kilometer or 6,214-mile gravity wave on Venus’s upper atmosphere baffled scientists because it’s staying so still even above the planet’s surface. Clouds in Venus’ that region typically move at a sped of around 100 meters per second, but this cloud is stationary compared to the rotation of the planet.

Gravity waves are quite common on Earth, and their effects can be seen on the clouds and in oceans. Such waves come into existence when a body of water or atmosphere is disturbed. As gravity attempts to restore equilibrium, it overshoots, causing a wave effect.

The researchers wrote, “Although it is unclear whether gravity waves induced by mountains can readily propagate upwards to the cloud tops of Venus, the observations suggest that the atmospheric dynamics of Venus are more complex at depth than previously appreciated.”

Lead researcher Makoto Taguchi of Tokyo's Rikkyo University said that the bow-shaped surprising structure remained relatively fixed during several days of their study.

The gravity wave was spotted by Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, which has been orbiting Venus since 2015. Surface probes sent to Venus stopped functioning within an hour after landing due to the planet’s extreme heat, so researchers now use orbiters like Akatsuki to monitor the planet.