Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Solar System Is Getting Blotchy

First there was an impact of an asteroid or comet on Jupiter that created a dark plume in it's atmosphere and now there's an intense white spot in the clouds of Venus. It's happened before, but unlike wild speculation from over a hundred years ago this could be a big old volcanic eruption.
Or another impact, which would not be good news for us.

"In an alert to fellow amateur astronomers, Venus observer Frank Melillo reports on his images captured on 19 July: "I have seen bright spots before but this one is an exceptional bright and quite intense area."

"A volcanic eruption would be nice, but let's wait and find out!" says Venus specialist Dr Sanjay Limaye of the University of Wisconsin. "An eruption would have to be quite energetic to get a cloud this high." Furthermore, at a latitude of 50 degrees south, the spot lies outside the region of known volcanoes on Venus.
Melillo comments that the spot will not be seen again as intense as it is now, thanks to the rapid rotation of the planet's atmosphere. "I hope that someone will image Venus on Thursday when this part of the atmosphere is facing us again," he says.
Further observations will help shed light on the genesis of the bright spot and how it evolves as the atmosphere churns over."

It's best to remember that incoming space objects are now classified.


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