Venus wave may be Solar System's biggest

Massive 10000km-long structure spotted in Venus' atmosphere – before abruptly disappearing

"We examined every possibility, such as a thermal tide or an instrumental error, but all of them except for a gravity wave were excluded".

Remarkably, the shape seems tied to the slowly rotating terrain below, particularly a high region called Aphrodite Terra, which is up to 5km high and the size of Africa near the equator.

As such, the team say that the evidence is pointing towards gravity waves.

The satellite captured this vision shortly after entering the planet's orbit, and the wave appeared to stand still for several days. Gravity waves ensue when a fluid - such as a liquid, gas or plasma - is displaced from a position of equilibrium.

It is now undertaking a two-year mission to observe Venus, with cameras on board set up to study the atmosphere and cloud physics of our neighbouring planet. (This isn't a gravitational wave, which is a ripple in space-time.) We have these waves in Earth's atmosphere, too; they interfere with weather and cause turbulence.

Four days straight, the massive wave dominated the planet's incredibly hot and dense atmosphere at about 65 km above the surface and stayed still, even in the face of Venus's legendary 223mph winds. You can see the wave remains stationary. "Since gravity waves transfer momentum, mountain-induced waves may be important for the climatology of Venus".

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Mars may be the focus of many current space exploration efforts, but scientists studying Venus have just discovered something very unusual: a massive structure that seems to extend nearly the entire length of planet. "But the air particles are moving up and down, very much as the water particles are moving up and down". "We suggest that winds in the deep atmosphere may be spatially or temporally more variable than previously thought", the study reads.

As the spacecraft waits patiently for the wave to reappear - Europe's Venus Express spacecraft spotted a number of similar structures during its 10-year mission - scientists are now tasked with explaining the peculiar phenomenon.

Tsang agrees that the fact that the authors' report that the feature was not there when the orbiter looked back at the region later is puzzling. "We have found more than 15 bows in the data obtained in one year", Taguchi said. The atmosphere shields Venus from view and makes it hard to understand it.

Illustration of surface winds on Venus being pushed up by a mountain, causing tension in the upper atmosphere that slows the high-altitude winds. On Earth, winds move only 10 to 20 percent the speed of the planet at most, but on Venus they far outpace the planet's stately spin.

Astronomers first found the unusual feature in late 2015 when JAXA's Akatsuki orbiter - a spacecraft created to analyze both the atmospheric dynamics and cloud physics of Venus - detected a odd structure in the upper Venusian atmosphere.

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