The thick cloud cover of Venus – which is impenetrable in visible light – has made it tough for astronomers to measure the length of the planet’s day. A new study at radio wavelengths may have some answers. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech.
Scientists said that they’ve finally answered the question of the length of a “day” on Venus. And the answer is … it’s always changing, by as much as 20 minutes! We knew that Venus had an exceedingly long day. A day on Venus – a single spin of the planet on its axis – is equal to approximately 243 Earth-days. What’s new is that the length of a Venus-day doesn’t stay fixed. That is, the spin of this neighboring planet regularly speeds up and slows down, by an amount measured in only minutes on earthly clocks, as the planet’s thick atmosphere interacts with its topography, or surface features.
This same study also unveiled the precise tilt of Venus’ axis and the size of its core.
The team of scientists led by Jean-Luc Margot of UCLA announced their findings in a new study published April 29, in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Astronomy. Margot explained how basic information about ...