MAY 02, 2021 5:39 PM PDT

Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now though, for the first time, researchers have been able to pinpoint the exact length of a day on Venus, as well as other key features of the planet. 

For the study, researchers analyzed a series of ground-based radar measurements. To gather the measurements, they aimed radio waves at Venus from the 70-meter-wide Goldstone antenna in California’s Mojave Desert, receiving radiowaves back on Earth several minutes later. They conducted this procedure on a total of 21 occasions between 2006 and 2020. 

"We use Venus as a giant disco ball," says Jean-Luc Margot, lead author of the research. "We illuminate it with an extremely powerful flashlight -- about 100,000 times brighter than your typical flashlight. And if we track the reflections from the disco ball, we can infer properties about the spin [state]."

Ultimately, the researchers were able to calculate that the average day on Venus lasts 243.02 Earth days. They also found that Venus’s rotation is constantly in flux, something which leads to length variations of at least 20 minutes between days on the planet. 

The researchers say that this variation likely results from the planet’s heavy atmosphere as it exchanges momentum with the solid ground, both accelerating and slowing down its rotation. While this happens on Earth too, its effects are markedly less pronounced. As Earth’s atmosphere is 93 times less massive than that of Venus, this phenomena leads to a fluctuation of just a millisecond each day. 

The researchers also found that Venus sits at a tilt of 2.64 degrees. The radar measurements further revealed that the orientation of Venus’ spin axis changes at a slower pace than that of Earth. Whereas this 'precession' takes around 26,000 years to make a full cycle on Earth, it takes around 29,000 years on Venus. From their findings, the researchers further calculated that the planet’s core is around 3,500 kilometres across, although they are currently unsure as to whether it is liquid or solid. 

While the researchers aim to continue their study of Venus, they also plan on making ground-based radar measurements on Jupiter’s moons, Europa and Ganymede. This comes especially given strong suspicions that liquid water lurks beneath a thick shell of ice on Europa. 

 

Sources: EurekAlertNature

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
JAN 05, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
JAN 05, 2021
Could Earth's Microbes Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life?
As scientists are learning more about microbes existing in the higher echelons of the Earth's atmosphere, they are b ...
MAR 31, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Were These the First Structures in the Universe?
MAR 31, 2021
Were These the First Structures in the Universe?
It's been theorized that our Universe started as a hot, incredibly dense point that exploded in the Big Bang. It's thoug ...
APR 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
APR 10, 2021
Japanese Spacecraft Launched to Clean Space Junk
  There are currently around 900,000 pieces of man-made space junk orbiting Earth- mostly from now-defunct satellit ...
MAY 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Part of a Chinese Rocket is Expected to Fall to Earth Soon
MAY 04, 2021
Part of a Chinese Rocket is Expected to Fall to Earth Soon
In the next few days, part of a rocket that put China's new space station into orbit will fall back to Earth in an uncon ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
JUN 08, 2021
Physicists Find Definitive Proof of What Causes the Northern Lights
The auroras that are the northern lights have captured the imagination of people for thousands of years. While theories ...
Loading Comments...