2 may 2021 17:17 GMT
“Venus is our sister planet and yet these fundamental properties remained unknown,” said the research director.
A team of researchers led by the University of California at Los Angeles has determined the exact length of a day on Venus, the inclination of its axis and the size of its core, thanks to the radar bounces exerted on the surface of the planet during the last 15 years. The results were published Thursday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
How long is a day on Venus? It’s a more complicated question than you might think. A @UCLA-led team used 15 years of data from the Deep Space Network to accurately determine the planet’s spin and inertia, which provides insight into its day, tilt and core. https://t.co/nvZBxQfNTBpic.twitter.com/rmQxF3tI2a
– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 29, 2021
The new radar measurements show that an average day on Venus lasts 243.0226 Earth days, which is roughly equal to two-thirds of an Earth year. The rotational speed of this planet is always changing, which means that a value measured at one time will be slightly higher or lower than a previous value. The team estimated the length of a day from each of the individual measurements and observed differences of at least 20 minutes.
“Venus is our sister planet and yet these fundamental properties remained unknown”, declared Jean-Luc Margot, Professor of Earth Sciences and Research Director.
The results also reveal that Venus is tilting to one side exactly 2.6392 degrees, while the Earth tilts about 23 degrees. Based on the rotation measurements, the team of researchers also calculated that the planet’s core has about 3,500 kilometers in diameter, quite similar to that of the Earth, although they still cannot deduce if it is liquid or solid.
According to scientists, Earth and Venus have a lot in common: Both rocky planets have almost the same size, mass and density, although, as these measurements show, they evolved in radically different paths.
“Most of the time, we get some data. But it’s unusual that we get all the data that we hope to get,” Margot said. Despite the challenges, the team is moving forward and has set its sights on two moons of jupiter: Europe and Ganymede.