The night side exhibits unexpected and previously-unseen cloud types, morphologies, and dynamics - some of which appear to be connected to features on the planet's surface. "This is the first time we've been able to characterise how the atmosphere circulates on the night side of Venus on a global scale," said Javier Peralta of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
"While the atmospheric circulation on the planet's dayside has been extensively explored, there was still much to discover about the night side. We found that the cloud patterns there are different to those on the dayside, and influenced by Venus' topography," said Mr Peralta, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Venus' atmosphere is dominated by strong winds that whirl around the planet far faster than Venus itself rotates. This phenomenon, known as 'super-rotation', sees Venusian winds rotating up to 60 times faster than the planet below, pushing and dragging along clouds within the atmosphere as they go.
These clouds travel fastest at the upper cloud level, some 65 to 72 kilometres above the surface. "We've spent decades studying these super-rotating winds by tracking how the upper clouds move on Venus' dayside-these are clearly visible in images acquired in ultraviolet light," said Mr Peralta.
The team used the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on European Space Agency (ESA)'s Venus Express spacecraft to observe the clouds in the infrared.
This allowed the team to combine numerous images to improve the visibility of the clouds, and see them at unprecedented quality.
The VIRTIS images thus reveal phenomena on Venus' night side that have never before been seen on the dayside.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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