Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system due to heat clouds that surround the planet that keep the temperature over 850º Fahrenheit, and the European Space Agency expected to see nothing less than extreme temperatures when the Venus Express spacecraft went into a gravitational plunge into the planet’s atmosphere in 2014 as a result of low fuel.
While this happened, the instruments on the spacecraft collected information and it was sent back to Earth. That information is still continuing to be analyzed by researchers to this day.
Despite what they had expected, they were somewhat surprised by the results. Although the planet is labeled the hottest in the solar system, they actually found that the poles of the planet are significantly colder than that of the poles here on Earth.
This discovery, published in the journal Nature Physics, challenges what we know and understand about our solar system’s planetary contents.
As the probe descended, it was found that the atmosphere was significantly thinner than originally thought and that there were “choppy gravitational waves” throughout the atmosphere that were caused by changes between atmospheric layers.
“Concerning uniformity — models are mostly rather smooth while the reality is much more complex and structured,” ESA scientist Ingo Müller-Wodarg told Astronomy Magazine. “We found enormous variability in the atmospheric densities that is explained by a combination of local (horizontal) day-night density variations but above all by strong periodicities, atmospheric waves. These are not captured by models.”
The discovery surprised scientists because no one ever would have thought that such a hot planet would have such cold temperatures dropping nearly -160º Fahrenheit at its poles.
This is the first time that Venus’s atmosphere has ever been studied directly at the source by atmospheric penetration, rather than just by fly-by or external probing. With that being said, these are the most accurate numbers in temperature readings for the “hot” planet to date.
Source: Astronomy Magazine