Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ever-Changing Venus Superstorm Sparks Interest

Infrared radiation from the cyclonelike storm circling the south pole of Venus. White regions show cooler, high-altitude clouds.

 

Elements of a giant cyclone circling above the south pole of Venus constantly break apart and re-form, according to new research. Scientists studying observations of the planet taken over the last six years have concluded that the long-lived storm is constantly evolving, raising even more questions about the unusual weather formation.

A storm on the move

When the European Space Agency's Venus Express satellite arrived at the hot planet in April 2006, it observed a cyclonelike structure above Venus' south pole, four times as large as similar storms on Earth. Over the past six years, the spacecraft has collected daily observations about the storm, which resembles one spotted over Venus' north pole by NASA's Pioneer Venus spacecraft in 1979.

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