The Sulphuric Acid Rainbows of Venus

Simulated_views_of_glory_on_Venus_and_Earth_node_full_image

A rainbow-like feature known as a “glory” has been seen by ESA’s Venus Express orbiter in the atmosphere of our nearest neighbor – the first time one has been fully imaged on another planet.

Rainbows and glories occur when sunlight shines on cloud droplets – water particles in the case of Earth. While rainbows arch across wide swathes of the sky, glories are typically much smaller and comprise a series of colored concentric rings centered on a bright core.

The atmosphere of Venus is thought to contain droplets rich in sulphuric acid. The glory in the images here was seen at the Venus cloud tops, 70 km above the planet’s surface, on 24 July 2011. It is 1200 km wide as seen from the spacecraft, 6000 km away.

Even more interesting, the color variations are not at all what would be expected from clouds containing sulphuric acid and water alone, suggesting that some other kind of chemical interplay is probably at play here as well.

Venus gets shorted sometimes in relation to Mars due to its brutally inhospitable surface, but there are some intriguing possibilities and things to learn from our comely green neighbor.

Venus_glory_details

Via European Space Agency for the full article and additional imagery.

This entry was posted in Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s