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Venus's Southern Polar Vortex Reveals Precessing Circulation

D. Luz, D. L. Berry, G. Piccioni, P. Drossart, R. Politi, C. F. Wilson, S. Erard, F. Nuccilli

Initial images of Venus's south pole by the Venus Express mission have shown the presence of a bright, highly variable vortex, similar to that at the planet's north pole. Using high-resolution infrared measurements of polar winds from the Venus Express Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer(VIRTIS) instrument, we show the vortex to have a constantly varying internal structure, with a center of rotation displaced from the geographic south pole by ~3 degrees of latitude and that drifts around the pole with a period of 5 to 10 Earth days. This is indicative of a nonsymmetric and varying precession of the polar atmospheric circulation with respect to the planetary axis.

Volume 332, Number 6029, Page 577
2011 April

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Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
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