Venus ... in the eye of a Japanese spacecraft

18 Aug 2010

There are two stories on Venus today and both are well worth keeping an eye out for updates.

i) is at is all about the prospect of a Japanese spacecraft approaching Venus which will enter into orbit around it in December of this year - just four months away. There are lots of questions to be answered, the post claims, such as its 'super rotation' and its strange atmosphere of C02 and sulphuric acid. Its atmosphere appears to be in perpetual fast motion, swirling madly, while the origin of the clouds of acid is a bit of a mystery. As far as members are concerned the spacecraft has a mission to study lightning on Venus, another mystery. The online Lightning and Airglow Camera is designed to hunt down lightning in order to understand how it works as the standard theory here on earth is that lightning requires water ice particles at the poles - but on Venus it is thought these do not exist.

ii) can be found at ... which is basically a quite novel way of approaching the subject, as far as the author's thought waves are concerned. For example, he says you will read (and yes he is right) that without the greenhouse effect our planet's surface temperature would be something like -18 degrees Celsius. Therefore we have greenhouse gases to thank for the actual +15 degrees Celsius that we enjoy. He asks - is this true? Well is it? This is a basic piece of science that is repeatedly trotted out but really really. Is it true? He says the assumption is based on our atmosphere being much warmer than radiant energy calculations predict, and the air contains trace gases that react to infra red. Further, it is assumed these things must be related.

What he is suggesting, I suppose, is the theory was invented to account for the warmth at the surface of the earth, when mathematics was saying we should not be as warm as we are. The article goes on by saying the evidence challenges the assumption (a fairly short pdf of three pages, mainly graphs and tables). You can make of it as you will.