Scientists amazed by mysterious flashes of light on Venus | Albiseyler

Scientists amazed by mysterious flashes of light on Venus

If those aren’t flashes of lightning, what could they be?

Greased Lightning

Mysterious flashing lights on Venus that scientists originally thought were from lightning may be something else entirely.

As detailed in a study published in Journal of Geophysical Research: PlanetsArizona State University scientists have suggested that flashes of light detected during missions to Venus may not be lightning strikes, as some scientists have assumed, but could instead be tens of thousands of meteors burning up in its ultra-hot atmosphere.

Missions led by Europe, the US and the former Soviet Union all detected signals believed to be lightning. But subsequent missions, such as NASA’s Cassini probe, “looked for but failed to find radio signals from lightning,” according to a new paper that baffled scientists.

Although “artists depicting the atmosphere of Venus like to include lightning to emphasize its hellish environment,” it seems unlikely, ASU researchers say, that lightning is to blame for the strange light sightings coming from the planet.

Among other things, because its clouds are made up almost entirely of sulfuric acid rather than water vapor — a a necessary ingredient for the formation of lightning at least here on earth.

Instead, these signals may indicate that meteors are burning in the planet’s “hellish” atmosphere, a finding that underscores how little we know about the mysterious rocky giant.

Meteoric madness

Using data from ASU’s Steward Observatory and Japan’s Akatsuki Venus orbiter, the team found that between 10,000 and 100,000 flashes were recorded annually that could correspond to a meteor fireball. While that number seems awfully high by Earth standards, scientists noted that many more meteors would approach Venus’ atmosphere than ours because it is closer to the Sun.

The researchers further predicted that the composition of the planet’s atmosphere may be the reason the fireballs burn brightly enough to be detected.

If Venus’ mysterious flashes are the result of meteoric fireballs, scientists won’t have to worry about building lightning-proof balloons to probe the planet’s atmosphere — though of course there could still be volcanic lightning on its surface, the researchers note, complicating an already hellish mission.

More about Venus: The co-founder of OceanGate is now planning a completely safe colony above Venus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *