JAXA's new Venusian orbiter may answer questions

From Science @NASA Japanese Spacecraft Approaches Venus

For the next few months, Venus will be softly resplendent in the evening sky, a treat for stargazers – but looks can be deceiving.

Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO at Venus, 200px)

An artist’s concept of Akatsuki at Venus. Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita

Consider this: The Venusian surface is hot enough to melt lead. The planet’s 96% carbon dioxide atmosphere is thick and steamy with a corrosive mist of sulfuric acid floating through it. The terrain is forbidding, strewn with craters and volcanic calderas – and bone dry. Takeshi Imamura can’t wait to get there.

Imamura is the project scientist for Akatsuki, a Japanese mission also called the Venus Climate Orbiter. The spacecraft is approaching Venus and will enter orbit on December 7, 2010. Imamura believes a close-up look at Venus could teach us a lot about our own planet.

“In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” says Imamura. “Yet the two worlds ended up so different. We want to know why.”

Although a parade of U.S. and Soviet spacecraft has visited Venus since 1961, no one yet knows how it became Earth’s “evil twin.” Did it suffer from a case of global warming run amok – or something else? When Akatsuki reaches Venus in December, it will begin to solve some of the mysteries hidden in the thick Venusian atmosphere.

“By comparing Venus’s unique meteorology to Earth’s, we’ll learn more about the universal principles of meteorology and improve the climate models we use to predict our planet’s future.”

Particularly puzzling is Venus’s “super-rotation.”  Fierce, blistering winds propel an atmosphere filled with storms and sulfuric acid clouds in a churning maelstrom around Venus at over 220 miles per hour, 60 times faster than the planet itself rotates.

Venus Climate Orbiter (Venus, 550px)

The acid clouds of Venus, photographed by the ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft. [more]

“Venus’s atmosphere is in perpetual motion, as if a living thing,” says Imamura.

Within this swirling cauldron are other Venusian riddles to be solved: What is the origin of the 12-mile thick layer of sulfuric acid clouds that shrouds the planet? And how does Venus’ lightning crackle through this strange brew?

Akatsuki, bristling with cameras, will circle the exotic planet’s equator in an elliptical orbit for at least 2 years, monitoring the atmosphere at different altitudes using various wavelengths (IR, UV, and visible). With this data and data from the spacecraft’s radio dish, scientists will reconstruct a 3D model of the atmosphere’s structure and dynamics.

“The spacecraft’s orbit will match the circulation of Venus’s clouds, allowing the instruments to monitor cloud movement from directly above for 20 hours at a time. We’ll assemble the images to produce a cloud motion time-lapse movie, much like a weather forecaster on television might show you of Earth.”

The instruments will also scrutinize the planet’s surface for volcanic activity that could be contributing to the sulfur contents of the atmosphere. “If any active volcanoes are spouting hot lava on Venus, one of our infrared cameras will detect the thermal emission,” says Imamura.

In addition, Akatsuki’s Lightning and Airglow Camera will hunt for lightning in order to settle a longstanding debate. “On Earth, the standard theory of lightning requires water ice particles on which positive or negative charges are induced via collisions,” explains Imamura. “But there are no ice particles in Venus’s hot, dry atmosphere–so how does Venusian lightning get started? It may be that charge separation can occur in sulfuric acid clouds–or perhaps some unknown solid particles exist in the atmosphere and play an important role.”

Imamura can scarcely contain his curiosity. “As a young boy I loved to watch clouds, stars, oceans, rocks, and creatures. I wanted to understand why they look and behave as they do. Now I am curious in the same way about Venus. Nature is so full of mysteries!”

Beginning in December, some of Venus’s mysteries will be revealed. Stay tuned.

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79 thoughts on “JAXA's new Venusian orbiter may answer questions

  1. approximatly the same distance from the sun? Did they move Venus on me while I slept?
    The distance form the sun would increase the effective energy input from the sun by a huge amount , that alone would account for some of the excess energy in then Venusian atmosphere.

  2. Science should learn more from all of these satellite visits to our neighboring planets than the actual data collected. The key fact that is determined in almost each and every case is that our theories of what these planets are like and how they developed and function are invariably wrong. Perhaps the use of the words; “we think, theoretically, perhaps, or we are not sure”–should be used more often until the actual data is collected. Same goes for all branches of science. This article does fairly well in that respect.

  3. Saying our 2 planets are approximately the same distance from the sun is misleading. Yes, maybe relatively speaking, but the difference is enough to have a big impact on the amount of heat and irradiance cooking the planet. I suspect that even if Venus had a similar atmosphere to earth, it would still be too hot to live there, just not hot enough to melt lead. Maybe the polar regions might be cool enough to survive.

  4. “But there are no ice particles in Venus’s hot, dry atmosphere–so how does Venusian lightning get started? It may be that charge separation can occur in sulfuric acid clouds–or perhaps some unknown solid particles exist in the atmosphere and play an important role.”

    So they are trying to find out why Venus’ atmosphere is acting like a giant lead-acid car battery?

  5. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
    We can check out the women that were left behind.
    Must be very Hot chicks if it can melt lead.

  6. “.. similar to earth” ? Where to start? Ground level atmospheric pressure 92 x earth’s. No water. Rotation (not orbital) period 243 days. No apparent volcanic activity for half a billion years. Which earth is Takeshi Imamura living on?

  7. Venus – Sun 67.2 million miles (108.2 million km)
    Earth – Sun 93 million miles (149 million km)
    Mass of Earth 5.98 × 1024 kg
    Mass of Venus 4.868 x 1024 kgs
    “In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” says Imamura. “Yet the two worlds ended up so different. We want to know why.”
    some pretty generous approximations there Ikeshita San …..

  8. @View from the Solent:
    “Rotation (not orbital) period 243 days.”
    To be more precise, the Venus sidereal period (full rotation relative to the stars) is 243 Earth days. The Venus synodic period (“day” or rotation relative to the sun) is almost 117 days.
    I wonder how warm we would be, here in Dallas, if the summer sun was shining for (117/2)*24 = 1404 hours.

  9. “Beginning in December, some of Venus’s mysteries will be revealed. Stay tuned. ”
    Absolutely!!!

  10. Not sure we’re going to learn much if Takeshi Imamura is going to observe and process results through a ‘lens’ that Venus is “In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth“.
    It is obviously nothing like Earth and its atmosphere lacks the vital gas H20, which is essential for the hydrological cycle that controls our climate. Venus has an atmosphere with 96% carbon dioxide, while that of Earth has only a 0.039% trace.
    I think it unlikely that we will learn anything about the climate of Venus which will assist in us in understanding about climate on Earth. But hey! he had to get the C word into the budget proposal somehow to get the satellite into orbit.

  11. “is approximately the same distance from the sun”
    More subtle nonsense!
    The average surface temperature of Venus is about 462C.
    If you use the most basic mathematical model and calculate the surface temperature of the Earth if moved into the same orbit of Venus, the Earth would have an average surface of 391C.

  12. I read an interesting paper on planetary atmospheres but it never gave the reason behind what was shown about each atmosphere. It had one very interesting graph with the eight bodies’ atmospheres traits plotted together and normalized in millibars.
    I would like them to solve the mystery why the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Titan all have a tropopause very near to 100 millibar, they all also all have cloud tops at this level near their equators. Venus has its sulfuric acid clouds there. Earth has water vapor clouds there. Titan has its methane cloud tops there. Each body has different compounds making up the atmospheres yet the cloud tops are at basically the same pressure level and the lapse rates also turn near this relative pressure level.
    Mercury has no real atmosphere so not included. At ground level Mars’s pressure is not even to 100 mb yet but was shown on this graph high above the other seven (less pressure).
    Does this have to do with pressures above this line broadening begins to completely close the close harmonic vibrational gaps in the absorption/emission lines of all molecule types? Why 100 mb? What is so special about this 100 mb pressure level? If I can re-locate the link to that paper I will post it later.
    Maybe this orbiter of Venus can help answer that curious question.

  13. “”” “In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” says Imamura. “Yet the two worlds ended up so different. We want to know why.” “””
    Well we already know why Earth and Venus ended up different. For a start; they are different masses; and they are different distances from the sun; and they have different atmospheres; and then Venus doesn’t have much water so it wouldn’t have a steamy atmosphere like parts of earth do.
    Other than that I think theya re on the right track in studying Venus; but it isn’t going to teach them diddley squat about earth climate.

  14. Akatsuki, bristling with cameras, will circle the exotic planet’s equator in an elliptical orbit for at least 2 years, monitoring the atmosphere at different altitudes using various wavelengths (IR, UV, and visible).
    “The spacecraft’s orbit will match the circulation of Venus’s clouds, allowing the instruments to monitor cloud movement from directly above for 20 hours at a time.

    “Directly above”? Not with an elliptical orbit! I’d settle for “in view” all the time.
    With Venus’s slow rotation rate, it would take a rather distant orbit. It may be that the “20 hours” mentioned above is for the far end of the orbit. The inner part would zoom by real quick before the apparent motion slows down on the next outward climb.
    Seems like a useful project, it’s been quite a while since there was a probed dedicated to Venus.

  15. Venus is outside the habitable zone, Earth is within it. Big, big difference. According to the reconstructions, Earth did have an atmosphere very like Venus’, early on. Mostly CO2 and 90 times current mass, it’s believed that the CO2 was chemically sequestered into rock by forming carbonates in the presence of water.
    So figuring out why Earth has oceans, and has had from very early on, is important. Pull Venus back to Earth’s orbit, give it oceans, wait a few million year and it would change a lot.

  16. 12 mile thick sulfuric acid clouds and clockwise retrograde rotation–very earth like, not.
    But nah lets focus, just like the geniusless NASA, on CO2, because like ZOMG it’s so evil.

  17. They spent many million dollars and gave the project scientist job to a guy that thinks Venus is like earth… man I want a job like that… I think the moon is like a big cheese ball. Now give me a job!

  18. Come off it guys. 6 or 7 comments pointing out that Venus is different from the earth when the dude points it out himself.
    It’s a “similar” size (the closest match of all the planets,)
    It exists at a “similar” distance (the closest match of all the planets)
    It’s a rocky planet of “similar” mass (the closest match of all the planets)
    It’s made of the same basic materials (unlike the gas giants, and is possibly be the
    best element for element by mass match for the earth. I didn’t research far enough.)
    Which other planet is more earthlike? Didn’t think so.
    I think ““In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” is perfectly acceptable, especially considering
    “Yet the two worlds ended up so different” is an admission that there are great differences between the two.

  19. Paul says:
    August 17, 2010 at 9:23 am
    If you use the most basic mathematical model and calculate the surface temperature of the Earth if moved into the same orbit of Venus, the Earth would have an average surface of 391C.
    I think there’s something wrong in that calculation. Mercury is half the distance to the Sun than Venus and therefore gets four times the radiance but it’s only 427C.

  20. >> “In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” says Imamura. “Yet the two worlds ended up so different. We want to know why.” <<
    Let me defend this statement. First off, astronomy deals with ballpark figures, so the distances 0.7 AU and 1.0 AU are very close in astronomical terms. The bigger equivalence goes back to the origin of both planets. The material that formed planets at 0.7 AU and 1.0 AU would be expected to be of similar composition. Venus gets twice the solar energy that Earth receives, does that alone explain the different evolution of the two worlds?
    Venus has about four times as much N2 as Earth and if you extrapolate that to other gasses that means that Earth has sequestered about 1/4 of the CO2 currently in Venus' atmosphere. To me this implies that the Earth is pretty good at eliminating CO2 quickly, and that also jibes with discrepancy between human CO2 output and atmospheric increase.
    The shortage on Earth of 3/4 of the gas that Venus has fits well with the early collision theory. Looking at it in the other direction, Venus should have somewhere between one to four times as much water as Earth. Where did it go? Can that much water vapor boil off its atmosphere in 4.6 billion years? If that's the case, how much CO2 and N2 has also boiled off? Venus' upper atmospheric temperatures aren't all that high, but maybe there's a significant sub-solar hotspot.

  21. mecago says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:29 am
    I think there’s something wrong in that calculation. Mercury is half the distance to the Sun than Venus and therefore gets four times the radiance but it’s only 427C.

    Mercury, like Earth, has a magnetosphere, Venus has not magnetic field (magnetosphere). That’s the difference.
    The high temperatures at Venus surface, not Venusian atmosphere, makes the carbon dioxide volume expands such that the CO2 molecules become separated one to the other at distances that impedes them to interact efficiently with IR photons.
    The average surface temperature on Venus is always, day and night, higher than its average atmospheric temperature. Therefore, the thermal energy always is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere, not the opposite way.
    The formula to calculate the incident solar energy upon any planet of the solar system is as follows:
    GPL = QSUN / 4π (POR)^2
    Where, GPL is the amount of incident solar radiation upon the planet, QSUN is the total amount of energy emitted by the Sun expressed in Watts (3.94832e+26 W), 4π = 12.56637061, and POR is the Planet Orbital Radius, expressed in meters.

  22. Buffoon says:
    “I think ““In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” is perfectly acceptable, especially considering””
    This is ignoring the well-known inverse square law. Venus, at 2/3 approx. the distance from the sun receives 1/(67squared/93squared) = 1.92 times the energy per square metre.

  23. >> Ric Werme says:
    August 17, 2010 at 10:20 am
    With Venus’s slow rotation rate, it would take a rather distant orbit. It may be that the “20 hours” mentioned above is for the far end of the orbit. The inner part would zoom by real quick before the apparent motion slows down on the next outward climb. <<
    According to the article, the spacecraft orbits at cloud speeds, about 220 miles per hour. That's still only about 1/4 of the rotation rate of the Earth, so the spacecraft orbital semimajor axis would have to be significantly farther than Geosynch on Earth.
    A satellite in an elliptical orbit must be travelling faster at closest approach (perivenera?) than a satellite in circular orbit at that distance in order for the elliptical satellite to move significantly farther away at 'apvenera'. So tracking the clouds at 'perivenera' couldn't last 20 hours, and must be done at 'apvenera' as you stated.

  24. Buffoon says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:24 am
    Come off it guys. 6 or 7 comments pointing out that Venus is different from the earth when the dude points it out himself.

    So this would be all right by you:
    “We have sent a probe to see why Anchorage, Alaska is so different in climate from Miami, Florida, when both are so similar in size and have hard dirt surfaces. There are, of course, differences.”

  25. To follow up on the point made by asmilwho: “This is ignoring the well-known inverse square law. Venus, at 2/3 approx. the distance from the sun receives 1/(67squared/93squared) = 1.92 times the energy per square metre.”
    The albedo (reflectance) of Earth is 0.367 and that of Venus (all-spectrum) is 0.75. This means that the effective solar irradiance into Venus’s atmosphere (and ultimately to its surface) is about 76% of that of Earth! WUWT?
    I think it was JBS Haldane who said “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.”

  26. John Lohman says ‘Japan? December 7th?’
    Well – look at that photo : looks just like a giant Pearl to me!

  27. Tom_R says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:31 am
    To me this implies that the Earth is pretty good at eliminating CO2 quickly, and that also jibes with discrepancy between human CO2 output and atmospheric increase.
    “Discrepancy” you say? I don’t know how to drive tanks but I could drive one through that analogy.
    If you do some basic research you’ll find out that the Oceans account for that discrepancy.
    How have you quantified this? Taking your word that Earth is much quicker than Venus at sequestering Carbon Dioxide, which I agree with by the way, how quick is quick?
    Back to how quick or fast this “Earth is pretty good at eliminating CO2 quickly”, any Climatologist could tell you that. But please tell me if it’s fast enough to:
    1) Fast enough to prevent an extra 1F of Globally averaged heat, on top of the 1.4F that we already have, that is due to us in the next 30 years from Thermal Lag? This assuming that we stop burning ALL fossil fuels today?
    2) Fast enough to counterbalance that most ironic postponing event called Global Dimming? Before the aerosols, that came from the same combustion as the CO2 did, filter down from the sky due to a massive decrease in our wretched and meaningless industrial ECONOMY (Blessed be its Name)?
    3) Fast enough to reverse the effects of an open Arctic in warming the Northern Hemisphere by yet another degree?
    I don’t think so. In any case Climatologists have done the math but then, as this website “metaphorically” described them, they’re just a bunch of Roaches.

  28. I apologize in advance for posting a self-promotion again. I don’t like to do this, but there are many not known things on the “morning star” physics. For example, the effect of volumetric expansion of the Venusian carbon dioxide on its absorptivity and emissivity and other features. In my opinion, if JAXA research goes “untouched” on ground, it will find what the theory predicts.
    More on Venus here:
    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=6153

  29. Nasif Nahle says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:45 am
    The average surface temperature on Venus is always, day and night, higher than its average atmospheric temperature. Therefore, the thermal energy always is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere, not the opposite way.

    If “thermal energy always is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere,” where does that energy come from?
    Wikipedia says, “The permanent cloud cover means that although Venus is closer than Earth to the Sun, the Venusian surface is not as well lit.” () Does enough radiant energy reach the ground to continuously maintain its temperature above the temperature of the atmosphere?

  30. Frank Lee MeiDere says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    🙂 Learn something new every day! Thanks for the link and the lesson.

  31. Various commenters were puzzling over why there is no water on Venus. Actually, there is. Water (H2O) + sulfur trioxide (SO3) = sulfuric acid (H2SO4), a process that takes place at high pressure and temperature. It worked well enough for the pulp mill in my home town, which burned sulfur to the trioxide and ran it through water-bath reactor columns to form the sulfuric acid needed to dissolve wood pulp. If you can estimate how much sulfuric acid is in the atmosphere of Venus, you can estimate the latent water content.

  32. Two thought occurred to me immediately when I read this, but I got beaten to the punch on both and they are right next to each other 🙂
    #
    Ed Murphy
    August 17, 2010 at 8:06 am
    I think Earth was fortunate enough to be struck by a huge comet when the moon was formed
    #
    John Lohman
    August 17, 2010 at 8:07 am
    Japan? December 7th?
    ———————————————————————————
    Our moon makes us very special!
    I bet the Venusians don’t expect a thing. hehehe
    Jini tsuki shichi nichi, nihon wa kinboshi ni ….

  33. Why do I have this fear that they ‘will use climatology to fill in the blanks’ running through my mind?

  34. The two greatest difference between the Earth’s and Venus’s weather / climate are the Earth’s oceans and moon. I can’t for them to figure out how much that means to the Earth.

  35. PhilJourdan says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    It’s what I do 🙂
    To tell the truth, I read that in a science book when I was about ten years old and although I can’t say I’ve ever seen it used since, for some reason the word stuck with me.
    Now the names of my grandchildren — that’s a different matter.

  36. A refrigerator is similar to an oven because both have a rectangular shape, a door and a light (although one cannot be sure the refrigerator light ever goes out). So if we study an oven we will know how a refrigerator works.

  37. “They are about the same size” (not)
    “They are about the same distance from the sun” (not)
    That’s the kind of generalization that promotes clueless politicians believing James “Dr. Venus” Hansen saying our.o3 percent CO2 will be 96 percent tomorrow if we don’t start living like it’s 1450.

  38. Over at “Sea Ice News #18” the text of the whole post suddenly went boldface midway through a comment by:
    mecago on August 16, 2010 at 10:41 am
    and stayed that way to the end of the page, until it was later corrected.
    Now I am seeing italicized text in this article starting above at:
    mecago on August 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    midway through that comment and running through this entire post to the end of this page.
    Let me take a wild flying guess here, and surmise someone is messing up the posts by using bold and italics together without properly ending their use of the HTML attributes in their comments.

  39. Colonial says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm
    If “thermal energy always is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere,” where does that energy come from?
    Wikipedia says, “The permanent cloud cover means that although Venus is closer than Earth to the Sun, the Venusian surface is not as well lit.” () Does enough radiant energy reach the ground to continuously maintain its temperature above the temperature of the atmosphere?

    One obvious answer is “from the subsurface materials”. Another answer not so quite obvious, but that will be obvious after JAXA advances in their research, is the superheated plasma which strikes directly on the surface of Venus. Remember that Venus has not the protective magnetic field that Mercury and Earth have, i.e. a magnetosphere.
    Michael J. Dunn says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    Various commenters were puzzling over why there is no water on Venus. Actually, there is. Water (H2O) + sulfur trioxide (SO3) = sulfuric acid (H2SO4), a process that takes place at high pressure and temperature. It worked well enough for the pulp mill in my home town, which burned sulfur to the trioxide and ran it through water-bath reactor columns to form the sulfuric acid needed to dissolve wood pulp. If you can estimate how much sulfuric acid is in the atmosphere of Venus, you can estimate the latent water content.

    Indeed, ESA has obtained images of the outer layer of the atmosphere of Venus where they detected water. The Venusian atmosphere has water vapor also. Nevertheless, Venus has not seawater.
    The origin of SO3 could be intense volcanic activity, deduced from the electric discharges in the near to the surface layers of the atmosphere and the fluctuations of the Venusian cloud microphysics.

  40. “”” Tom_R says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:31 am
    >> “In so many ways, Venus is similar to Earth. It has about the same mass, is approximately the same distance from the sun, and is made of the same basic materials,” says Imamura. “Yet the two worlds ended up so different. We want to know why.” <<
    Let me defend this statement. First off, astronomy deals with ballpark figures, so the distances 0.7 AU and 1.0 AU are very close in astronomical terms. The bigger equivalence goes back to the origin of both planets. The material that formed planets at 0.7 AU and 1.0 AU would be expected to be of similar composition. Venus gets twice the solar energy that Earth receives, does that alone explain the different evolution of the two worlds? """
    Yes Tycho Brahe had it all wrong. If he had just said Venus is over there towards the sun, and Mercury is too; but usually closer; and Mars goes back wards sometimes; but only for a while so it mostly goes forwards, well I am sure the state of Astronomy would still be in great shape; well that's ball park great shape of course.
    Now let me see the error in the rate of precession of the perihelion of Mercury predicted; excuse me that's projected; from classical Newtonian orbital theory, was a huge 43 seconds of arc per century ; well that's just ballpark mind you; so no reason to go off on a tangent and follow that Einstein idiot and his crazy theory about warped space time !
    Izzere anything that is more "ballpark" than Climate science; well besides that ancient astrology that the Japanese are fond of mentioning ?

  41. “Fierce, blistering winds propel an atmosphere filled with storms and sulfuric acid clouds in a churning maelstrom around Venus at over 220 miles per hour, 60 times faster than the planet itself rotates.”
    The winds propel the atmosphere? How?

  42. Tenuc said on August 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm:

    Why has everything suddenly gone Italic on me???
    Spooky!!!

    I sorta mentioned that above…
    Let’s see what happens when I use the attribute-ending codes (which likely won’t show up)…

  43. The slow retrograde rotation of Venus must be a clue as to why the difference between Earth and the sister planet is so pronounced. Whatever caused that retrograde rotation must have also have had an effect on the current state of affairs on that planet. Although planets closer to the mother star is proned to tidal locking, (Just as our moon), I do not believe Venus is sufficiently close enough for this to be the explanation.

  44. Tom in Florida
    August 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm
    They are also both in the kitchen, weigh about the same, and are very similar chemically; your right they are nearly identical!

  45. It could be the reason they’re trying to find out so much about Venus is because Dr Hansen got his “bones” with his early research papers, and based his “Earth will turn into another Venus” theory on the little that was known then.
    They’re trying to get enough data for Hansen to revise his early papers, and PROVE to us that “It’s much worse than we thought.”

  46. Way to Go JAXA & Takeshi Imamura!!!! Thank You! Congratulations! Good Luck! (and to ward off the fates – Break a leg! as they say in showbiz) Whenever scientists actually do something (as opposed to using a computer program to simulate and extrapolate) the World should celebrate. Please keep us all posted! Don’t hold back anything!

  47. >> mecago says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    1) Fast enough to prevent an extra 1F of Globally averaged heat, on top of the 1.4F that we already have, that is due to us in the next 30 years from Thermal Lag? This assuming that we stop burning ALL fossil fuels today? <<
    Oh horrors! 1 degree F! Thirty years from now I'll have to get up a whole 15 minutes earlier each day to wake up to the same temperature. Of course that's only if your CAGW religion is correct to begin with.

  48. The fact the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter includes “Climate” in its mission name may indicate some bias towards using Venus to “prove” the case for CO2-induced global warming on Earth.
    In any case, it is important to learn as much as possible about Venus and possibly explain its excessive heat as due to something other than the “greenhouse” effect gone wild. Venus is terrestrial and more like the Earth than any other planet in size and orbital location, yet its temperature, atmosphere, rotation, and a “young” surface with few impact craters are so different. This cries out for an explanation.
    Thought it is a long shot, it would be nice to see the scientific concensus overturned. In his controversial 1950 best seller Worlds in Collision Immanuel Velikovsky speculates that Venus was a comet that was captured by our solar system as recently as 1500 BC! That would explain why Venus rotates opposite to all the other planets and why it is so hot and why it has such a dense CO2 (96.5%)atmosphere.
    If, as claimed by Velikovsky, the capture occured during historical times, one would expect mention of this event in the oral history of those times. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (the Greek name for Venus) was born when the god Cronus cut off his father Uranus’s genitals and threw them in the sea and Aphrodite arose from the sea foam. In another myth, the goddess Athena sprang from the head of Zeus (Jupiter), which could be an ancient interpretation of a comet appearing to come from Jupiter and passing by the Earth on its way to planetdom. He interprets myths from India, China, Egypt, Mexico, and the MidEast and attaches them to his theory. In particular the Exodus story of the pillar of fire by night and smoke by day that guided the Hebrews during their wandering in the desert is said to be the tail of the comet/planet Venus!
    I don’t expect Velikovsky’s out-of-the-box speculations to be supported by the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter, but it would be nice if additional data clarified what percentage of its excessive heat is due to “greenhouse” effects, and what percentage may be due to other factors, such as the pressure of its dense atmosphere.
    There is only a 1/365 (0.27%) chance the Japanese Venus Climate Orbiter would be scheduled to enter the Venusian atmosphere on any given date. Yet that date happens to be December 7th, the exact date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Coincidence?

  49. venera actually landed and sent back pictures. i think the craft lasted around 3 hours on the surface of the planet
    and i can answer all their questions without sending a probe. It’s hotter because:
    1) it’s closer to the sun
    2)the day is 243 time longer than on earth
    3)the atmosphere is 93 times denser
    but hey, shows what you can get financed with CAGW money.
    maybe if NASA puts “climate” in front of the project title they can get the money to send someone back to the moon, or even to mars

  50. peterhodges says:
    August 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm
    and i can answer all their questions without sending a probe. It’s hotter because:
    2) the day is 243 time longer than on earth

    You made me think in those chicken-roaster machines. The slower the rotation, the more toasted the chicken you get (lip-smacking).
    However, the time a hemisphere would spend on facing the Sun, the time the opposite hemisphere would be in the darkness. While a hemisphere is taking solar thermal energy, the hemisphere of the other extreme is losing thermal energy towards the space.

  51. Rhoda R says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm
    Is Venus the only planet without a magnet shield?
    Yes, until now. Mars has a weak magnetic field and Mercury also, although Mercury’s magnetic field is a bit stronger than Mars’ magnetosphere.

  52. >>John Lohman says: August 17, 2010 at 8:07 am
    >>December 7th?
    Yeh. Venus is the new name for Hawaii.
    .

  53. Average surface pressure on Earth (sea level): 1 013 hPa
    Venus: 93 196 hPa
    Solar irradiance (annual average): 1 367.6 vs. 2 613.9 Watts per sq. meter.
    Number of natural satellites: 1 vs. 0.
    Negligible differences, we can easily ignore them as the Japanese team did maybe in order to get some additional financial support from pro-AGW
    sources.

  54. “By comparing Venus’s unique meteorology to Earth’s, we’ll learn more about the universal principles of meteorology and improve the climate models we use to predict our planet’s future.”
    It appears scientists in Japan have to kiss the golden calf just as here in the US.

  55. Sorry, I did not need to be so cynical.
    Compliments to the Japanese space program, and the interesting questions raised about how the lightning is generated, and whether there are active volcanoes on Venus, as we are told the huge Mons on Venus are volcanoes.
    I think what they mean by Earth being similar to Venus is that they are supposed to be of the same age and made from the same primordial cloud. A simple answer for the high heat and electrical activity on Venus is that it is younger.

  56. Adam Soereg says: Solar irradiance (annual average): 1 367.6 vs. 2 613.9 Watts per sq. meter [Earth vs. Venus].
    True, at the edges of the atmosphere. But Earth albedo (o.367) reflects 501.9 w/m2, leaving 865.7 w/m2 to impinge upon the Earth. And Venus albedo (o.75) reflects 1 960.4 w/m2, leaving 653.5 w/m2 to impinge upon Venus. How then to reconcile the higher temperature of Venus with the lower actual solar flux into the planet? (I have no axe to grind. This is a true puzzle.)
    Nasif Nahle says: However, the time a hemisphere would spend on facing the Sun, the time the opposite hemisphere would be in the darkness. While a hemisphere is taking solar thermal energy, the hemisphere of the other extreme is losing thermal energy towards the space.
    But not quite exact. It turns out that the atomosphere of Venus has a steep refractive gradient, which will have the effect of causing tangential rays from the Sun to shine onto the “back” hemisphere. This effect is strong enough on Earth that the true position of the visual setting sun is already below the horizon. At one time, Venus was supposed to have severe optical refraction phenomena, but these were not observed from the Venera probes. (My grad school experiment was a “Venus machine,” designed to create such extreme refractive gradients.)


  57. Nasif Nahle says:
    August 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm
    While a hemisphere is taking solar thermal energy, the hemisphere of the other extreme is losing thermal energy towards the space.

    that’s a point, plus those 240mph winds might help even things out.
    however, as someone said above, how hot would it get in dallas if the day were 5,352 hours long?

  58. The “warmers” love to pint at Venus for their Scare you straight momet of drama.
    But Venus is not like Earth and you have all pointed out the obvious differences.
    Earth will not become another Venus regardless of even the most destructive human activity.
    As a space science enthusiast, I have to say, Venus is a waste.
    There will be no manned missions to Venus, ever.
    Studying what makes inhospitable planets, so, when the vast resources of the solar system remain untapped and largely unexplored is a waste of scientific curiosity, as well as money.

  59. Michael J. Dunn says:
    August 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    But not quite exact. It turns out that the atomosphere of Venus has a steep refractive gradient, which will have the effect of causing tangential rays from the Sun to shine onto the “back” hemisphere. This effect is strong enough on Earth that the true position of the visual setting sun is already below the horizon. At one time, Venus was supposed to have severe optical refraction phenomena, but these were not observed from the Venera probes. (My grad school experiment was a “Venus machine,” designed to create such extreme refractive gradients.)
    And another point is the plasma “tail” at the “dark” side of the planet.
    In conclusion, Venus is not the twin of Earth; therefore, there is no point of comparison between both planets and, as Jimash says, “Venus is a waste”.

  60. What pis… rather, what annoys me is that studying Venus is hardly a waste. No scientific research is a waste, and anything that can clue us in on how the solar system was formed is good. But when we do missions like this with the feeble justification that somehow studying an inhospitable planet that has only a few, loose comparisons to our own in order to learn more about our fuc… rather, our freakin’ climate is just plain stup… rather, just plain moro… rather, just plain assholish.

  61. Frank Lee MeiDere says:
    August 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm
    What pis… rather, what annoys me is that studying Venus is hardly a waste. No scientific research is a waste, and anything that can clue us in on how the solar system was formed is good. But when we do missions like this with the feeble justification that somehow studying an inhospitable planet that has only a few, loose comparisons to our own in order to learn more about our fuc… rather, our freakin’ climate is just plain stup… rather, just plain moro… rather, just plain assholish.
    “Venus is a waste” of the solar system, not the scientific researches on it, I agree. The problem is not the investigation that JAXA will do on the planet, but the objectives of the investigation, which obviously don’t have a scientific footing given that Venus and Earth are not similar planets; probably not even on their respective origins.

  62. In 2036, the sculptor Theotocopulos (Cedric Hardwicke) is an unhappy camper, believing art and humanity has been sacrificed for technology and science, as he exclaims: “What is this progress? What is the good of all this progress onward and onward? We demand a halt. We demand a rest … an end to progress! Make an end to progress ! Make an end to this progress now! Let this be the last day of the scientific age!” In the name of humanity, Theotocopulos leads an attack on the first manned rocketship to the moon. The film grandly concludes with the territory’s political leader, the great-grandson of John Cabal, Oswald Cabal (again Massey), motioning upwards and saying: “All the universe…or nothing. Which shall it be?”
    Let us not use science and the pursuit of knowledge to restrict the future of humanity,

  63. Nasif Nahle says:
    August 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Sorry, Nasif. That wasn’t actually aimed at you or Jimash. I never thought either of you meant it in that way. (I doubt many readers here would consider any form of research a “waste.”) I was referring to the waste of time and resources that will be spent trying to force connections between whatever information comes back and Earth’s climate.
    And I’m also pis… rather, annoyed that apparently no research today can be undertaken unless it first sacrifices its intellectual goat to the Climate Gods.

  64. Interesting blog. With regard to Ira’s comment above, some of the works of Charles Ginenthal, editor-in-chief of the journal ‘The Velikovskian’, that I have thought were impressive include the articles “The Nature of Venus’ Heat”, “A Tale of Two Venuses”, and Ginenthal’s book ‘The Extinction of the Mammoth’.
    Although I am not an astronomer or professional scientist, the above three publications by Ginenthal seem to provide some support for the main thesis of Velikovsky’s ‘Worlds in Collision’ (1950). Many facts regarding the planet Venus that are known today were not known back in 1950 when Velikovsky argued that Venus is hot new planet which once had a visible comet-like tail seen by ancient peoples. Yet it is known now that Venus has surface temperatures of nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit, volcanoes that number in the tens of thousands, a pristine uneroded surface, and other unusual features. In some ways Venus has turned out to be notably consistent with ‘Worlds in Collision’ which was published before any spacecraft were sent to Venus. I am not saying that Velikovsky’s Venus theory is proven or even probably right. However, I do think that it should be seriously considered by scientists and kept in mind as they learn more about Venus.
    Adam Stuart
    Jacksonville, Florida

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