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Venus’ polar vortex is chaotic maelstrom

The long-sought double hurricane at Venus’ south pole has disappeared. New images from ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft show that the so-called polar vortex, which was thought to swirl steadily around the planet’s poles at all times, is actually a chaotic maelstrom.

A gigantic hurricane with two calm, dark eyes was discovered at Venus’ north pole by the Pioneer Venus spacecraft in 1979. This double-eyed feature, dubbed the “dipole of Venus,” was thought to form when warm air from the planet’s equator rose and travelled toward the pole, where it cooled and sank to form a deep, swirling atmospheric pit.

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