2017 Peale Lecture: Gerald Schubert - Venus: Its Rotation and its Atmosphere

Event Date: 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 4:00pm
  • Peale Lecture 2017

Peale Lecture 2017

Gerald Schubert, UCLA

Venus: Its Rotation and its Atmosphere

Stan Peale’s major scientific interest was the orbital and rotational dynamics of planets and moons including Venus, which has a very unusual rotational state. He and Peter Goldreich investigated this in several papers in the middle to late 1960s. Here we describe the rotation of Venus and its atmosphere and discuss how the slow retrograde rotation of the planet and the rapid zonal retrograde rotation of the atmosphere came about and are maintained. The interaction of the atmosphere and the solid planet plays a crucial role in understanding their dynamics. This interaction takes place in the planetary boundary layer at the base of the atmosphere. We present some new ideas about the nature of this region. We discuss how the atmosphere/solid planet interaction occurring on Venus might also take place on extra-solar planets resulting in the asynchronous rotation of these bodies about their stars. Finally, we review our present understanding of the several dynamical processes contributing to the maintenance of Venus’ atmospheric superrotation.