Scientists from Rikkyo University in Tokyo have reported finding a huge structure in the atmosphere of Venus, using Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft.
The findings are published today in Nature Geoscience.
The mammoth structure is believed to be a stationary wave spread over a vast region, stretching for 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) in the cloud tops of Venus’ upper atmosphere.
Interestingly, the wave did not move over several days, but instead remained stationary over a mountainous region on the planet’s surface.
At the moment, the exact properties of the wave aren’t clear. But the most likely explanation is that this was some sort of wave generated as air flowed over a mountain nearby, from high to low temperature.
This is more commonly known as a gravity wave (not to be confused with a gravitational wave), where two regions try to balance out in equilibrium – like how a wave propagates over an ocean.
“This is the first evidence of gravity wave propagation from the lower atmosphere to the middle atmosphere [of Venus],” Makoto Taguchi from Rikkyo University, one of the study’s authors, told IFLScience.
He noted, though, that 15 other bow-shaped regions had been found before, but usually they move with the background wind on Venus; this region stayed stationary for four days.