Venus Vortices Go for Chaotic Multi-Storey Strolls Around the Poles

Posted on March 26, 2013
The South Polar Vortex of Venus changes its shape day-to-day. The upper panels of the figure show the upper clouds at 63km above the surface and the lower panels present the vortex as observed in the lower clouds at 42km altitude level. (Credit: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA/Universidad del País Vasco (I. Garate-Lopez))

The South Polar Vortex of Venus changes its shape day-to-day. The upper panels of the figure show the upper clouds at 63km above the surface and the lower panels present the vortex as observed in the lower clouds at 42km altitude level. (Credit: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA/Universidad del País Vasco (I. Garate-Lopez))

A detailed study of Venus’ South Polar Vortex shows a much more chaotic and unpredictable cyclone than previously thought. The analysis reveals that the center of rotation of the vortex wanders around the pole differently at different altitude levels in the clouds of Venus. In its stroll around the Pole, in layers separated by 20 km, the vortex experiences unpredictable changes in its morphology.

The results of this study are published online in Nature Geoscience today.

The study, entitled ‘A chaotic long-lived vortex at the southern pole of Venus’, used infrared images from VIRTIS instrument onboard the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft. VIRTIS provides spectral images at different levels of the atmosphere and allows the observation of the lower and upper clouds of Venus.

Read more at: ScinceDaily.com