Venus cloud top winds from tracking UV features in Venus Monitoring Camera images
Publication date: 17 March 2009
Authors: Moissl, R., et al.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Copyright: AGUTo date dynamical observations of the Venus clouds have delivered mainly either only short-term or long-term averaged results. With the Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC) it finally became possible to investigate the global dynamics with a relatively high resolution in space and time on a long-term basis. Our findings from manual cloud feature wind tracking in VMC UV image sequences so far show that the details of the mesospheric dynamics of Venus appear to be highly variable. Although the general rotation of the atmosphere remained relatively stable since Mariner 10, more than 30 years ago, by now, there are indications of short-term variations in the general circulation pattern of the Venus atmosphere at cloud top level. In some cases, significant variations in the zonal wind properties occur on a timescale of days. In other cases, we see rather stable conditions over one atmospheric revolution, or longer, at cloud top level. It remains an interesting question whether the irregularly observed midlatitude jets are indeed variable or simply become shielded from view by higher H2SO4 haze layers for varying time intervals. Winds at latitudes higher than 60°S are still difficult to obtain track because of low contrast and scarcity of features but increasing data is being collected. Over all, it was possible to extend latitudinal coverage of the cloud top winds with VMC observations. Thermal tides seem to be present in the data, but final confirmation still depends on synthesis of Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer and VMC observations on night and dayside. Although poorly resolved, meridional wind speed measurements agree mainly with previous observations and with the presence of a Hadley cell spanning between equatorial region and about 45°S latitude.