Superrotation on Venus. Really?

I just learned about the superrotating atmosphere on Venus (from listening to Stardate). I just gotta say, wow. The universe is constantly astounding me.

This is all neat and shit, but how do they know that the atmosphere is going that fast? From my limited research it seems we have only visual data to confirm this, and I know that men’s eyes are easily deceived. Have we ruled-out any perception bias? Are we sure that the atmosphere is really moving that quickly or does it just *appear *to be moving that quickly?

As an aside, the story of the Akatsuki Orbiter is fascinating.

A new theory to explain superrotation on Venus

Why does Venus’ atmosphere rotate sixty times faster than its surface?

No eyes are involved, of course. It’s all instrument readings.

Thanks for the links, Harpo :). I’ve actually read both of those. The Durand-Manterola is a “proposal” and the Peralta study mentions that they are “predictions” based on observations. And, with the math, we’re just bending/crunching numbers until they match what we suspect.

What instruments and sensors are we using, anyway? What have we collected that is different than reflected light?

The guys in the Peralta study even say, “…Other types of waves, however, do not exist on our planet”, which gets at the crux of my issue with all of this. How can we really say what happens in the cosmos when our only points of reference are earthbound? That last question is rhetorical; I’d like to stay focused on the Venusian atmosphere.

You’re perilously close to saying that scientists just make all this stuff up and we rubes won’t know the difference.

If you read those links you’ll note that they further link to the original formal academic paper: ANALYTICAL SOLUTION FOR WAVES IN PLANETS WITH ATMOSPHERIC SUPERROTATION. I. ACOUSTIC AND INERTIA-GRAVITY WAVES, the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Volume 213, Number 1. The full paper, not just an abstract, is found there. You can take a look at the math to see how they calculate the various waveforms.

It also states where the collected data comes from:

Again, none of this is “visual data” in the sense that eyes or what humans consider visible light is involved. It is of course possible that the data has been misinterpreted or was flawed in the getting, but it all appears to be standard satellite imagery as sound as anything else scientists based their conclusions on.

Ha! Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. But that’s a discussion for which a different forum would be a better fit.

Again, thanks for the feedback and for taking the time to explain what I might be missing. Your quoted text was helpful. I also just (briefly) read about the sensors on the Venus Express orbiter; it’s more than light. It has opened my eyes (get it :p) but now I’ve got more reading and understanding ahead of me.

I think what I was looking for was something like; “they dropped a beer can down there and clocked its progress”. Though I realize that’s little more than writing a science fiction novel, that’s what I need to hear. If we’re watching a fluid moving around –without reference to any particles- then how do we confirm those measurements of velocity? It seems we’re only measuring wave energies and not absolute motion.

What do you mean? There may be other evidence, but we’re seeing clouds move. Clouds are made of particles.

The clouds are homogeneous, though. How can we be absolutely sure that the cloud particles in this spot at this time are the same particles we were seeing over there at that time? I find this especially questionable since we’ve now all agreed that we’re actually *watching *waves, and not just particles moving linearly along a predicted pathway.

They are quite obviously not homogenous at large scale, just look at any photo of Venus. What’s your basis for supposing that they are homogenous at smaller scales? The abstract of that Nature paper that I linked to certainly suggests not:

Venus’ clouds in visual wavelengths are fairly homogenous and bland. But in UV light they show lots of detail.

This is not my field, but it appears we have spectroscopic measurements (example) which show Doppler shift consistent with speed measured by other means. This is a direct measurement of the gas motion.

and of course the several direct measurement of wind speeds and pressures achieved by the mariner fly-bys and several successful soviet (venera) surface landings.

direct measurement of supporting evidence.

Thanks to all for their time and conversation. I really should have chosen a better word than homogeneous. I’m glad you guys still got what I was gettin’ at. The link from **Richox **has the kind of info I was hoping for. Researching that will keep me busy this afternoon.

I’m not fully sold that all of man’s astronomical conclusions are *valid *but you’ve almost convinced me about the winds on our nearest neighbor. :slight_smile: In any event, I’m astonished by what we can do and that we have such a desire to do it.

(approaches container of worms with can opener) Which ones are you suspicious of, and why?

Widemann, Lelloucha & Donatib:

This seems pretty conclusive evidence that the apparent cloud motions observed by spacecraft represent true bulk motion of the atmosphere.

I’m almost fully sold that not all of our astronomical measurements are solid. There’s no specific measurement I can point to and say that I’m suspicious of that one, but there are so many that it’d be almost impossible for all of them to be right.

Sure. But it’s simply not true that we point a big telescope at Venus and try to watch the clouds move, as the OP implied.

Agreed, but it’s also not true that if this were all we had that the data would be as weak as the OP implied. Clouds are indeed particles that move with the air current, and when we include all EM wavelength from IR through visual to UV passive observation does yield a lot more information than the OP supposed.

Clouds are particles, but the particles that make up a cloud aren’t always visible. It’s possible for the water droplets to evaporate on one end of a cloud, while vapor condenses into droplets on the other end, while none of the particles have any bulk movement at all. That would look like the cloud moving, even though it’s not.

The old saying that “any sufficiently sophisticated tech is indistinguishable from magic” applies.

If somebody starts from the idea that they need to be able to understand the entire chain of measurements and reasoning from end to end, AND that person is only sophisticated enough to understand “drop a beer can and keep it in sight while timing its motion with a mechanical stopwatch”, then all the rest becomes magic by definition. And magic is untrustworthy.

To his credit, the OP quickly recognized there are other ways to measure that are direct enough so they’re not magic to him.

This whole thread is a cautionary tale about sophisticated science and unsophisticated audiences. A lot of Moon Hoax believers “thinking” can be summarized as “I can’t figure out how to get to the Moon, so therefore nobody could have figured out how to get to the Moon.” It’s nonsense of course. But popular nonsense.

I’m fascinated by the discoveries and measurements made with very crude tools. Such as Eratosthenes calculating the size of the Earth armed with a stick and an anecdote about a well.