Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Atomospheric cold layer found on hottest planet


Venus is a pretty amazing and mysterious planet, but new findings suggest that Earth's evil twin has just become even more enigmatic.

A layer of cold may have been found in the planet's atmosphere 125 kilometres above its surface, so cold that it freezes carbon dioxide, turning it into snow or falling ice.

The orbiting Venus Express spacecraft has been sending images and data back to scientists for the past six years, whose analysis has hinted at the planet's new frosty layer, measuring around -175 degrees Celsius.

Bizarrely, the cold part is sandwiched in between two warmer layers of atmosphere. But even weirder is that it's colder than any part of Earth's of atmosphere despite being 40 million kilometres closer to the Sun.

However, researchers are being cautious about the anomaly, stating that, while the bright patches shown in images could indicate falling snow or ice, there could be another explanation for the phenomenon.

The results will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.