TECH

Inexplicably High Speed Winds On Venus Baffle Astronomers (VIDEO)

19/06/2013 11:40 BST | Updated 19/08/2013 10:12 BST

There's something strange happening on Venus. Which would be worrying, but given that the surface of the second planet from our sun is a boiling hot mass of carbon dioxide, sulphuric acid clouds and vaporised oceans, there's always something strange happening on Venus.

On the other hand, this time around it's even stranger than normal.

According to the Space Research Institute in Moscow, the average cloud-top wind speed on the planet has risen from 186mph in 2006 to 249mph in 2012.

That's a rise of more than 33% - and scientists aren't sure why it's happening.

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Above: ESA illustration of how wind speeds are calculated on Venus

The European Space Agency (ESA) said that there was currently no explanation for the super-high winds, which were picked up by its Venus Express probe.

"This is an enormous increase in the already high wind speeds known in the atmosphere. Such a large variation has never before been observed on Venus, and we do not yet understand why this occurred," said Igor Khatuntsev from the Space Research Institute and lead author of the Russian-led paper to be published in the journal Icarus.

The team tracked more than 45,000 features by hand and 350,000 with a computer to calculate the wind speeds.