Scientists puzzling out secrets of Venus’ 30-year-old ‘Giant Dark Cloud’

There are many strange things happening on Venus. Among them is a recognizable weather pattern that scientists now realize has persisted in the planet’s atmosphere for at least 30 years.

Nicknamed the “Giant Dark Cloud,” scientists first noticed that feature in data gathered by an infrared camera aboard the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki, which has been orbiting Venus since 2015. The cloud is huge, spanning a third of the planet’s latitude around its equator. After identifying the feature, scientists went looking for it in archives of similar infrared observations of the planet and found its signature across the full three decades’ worth of relevant data.

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