Credit: NASA/JPL Galileo NIMS team
Modern astrophysics is trying to explain electric lights with theories born in the oil-lamp era. The laws of electromagnetism have been known for nearly 200 years and the physics of plasma behavior have been worked out over the past century. But the physics of astronomy seems transfixed by a kind of Puritan faith in oil-lamp era mechanics and gravity.
The case of Venus is illuminating: Astronomers probe the atmosphere and surface with the latest electronic sensors. The returned signals indicate conditions typical of the interior of a gas discharge tube. But astronomers tie themselves into knots of contradiction and futility trying to explain the electric data with concepts of greenhouses and smog.
The Pioneer probes experienced internal overloads and sparking at 12 km altitude as if they had become “coated with plasma.” The Magellan orbiter detected “high radar reflectivity” of mountain peaks, also typical of a “plasma coating” like St. Elmo’s fire. Although measurements from outside the atmosphere indicated that only 2% of the sunlight striking the cloud tops makes it to the surface, surface probes show a brightly lit landscape as if the sky were glowing. The astronomer, Garry Hunt, half-jokingly suggested that “The Venusians may well be glowing from the nearly continuous discharges of those frequent lightning strokes.” Measurements reveal that Venus radiates twice the energy it receives from the sun. The internal heat of Venus ensures that the temperature of each layer of the atmosphere is uniform from pole to pole and from dayside to nightside, despite Venus’s slow rotation.
Cloud movements show a 4-day rotation period of the upper atmosphere at the equator, which declines to 2 days towards the poles. Within the framework of standard theory, no force is present to drive the upper winds around the planet at such a speed, since Venus’ itself has a rotational period of 243 days retrograde and the planet’s lower winds are exceptionally sluggish. Since the planet is the same temperature overall there is no temperature gradient to drive the winds.
A heated interior will cause a periodic global expansion and collapse of the atmosphere as it transfers heat energy through the clouds to space. The mechanism is analogous to the bouncing of a lid on a kettle of boiling water. In 1972 it was discovered that Venus’s cloud deck moves up and down through 1 km over a 4-day period. Such a phenomenon requires considerable energy input – something that is difficult to account for on a very slowly rotating planet if solar energy is the only source. This ‘breathing’ was later confirmed by the Magellan orbiter, which underwent variable atmospheric braking with a 4-day cycle at the lowest point of its orbit.
So if Venus’s atmosphere is being lit, heated and driven electrically, where are the “wires” feeding current into it? Probes have discovered that the planet has no significant magnetic field and no magnetosphere. But it has an ionosphere laced with “Birkeland current ropes” of electric current from the solar “wind” and a plasma tail composed of Birkeland currents (“stringy things” in the jargon of astrophysics). As Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfvén has described, Birkeland currents act as “power cables,” transmitting electrical energy over vast distances. From an Electric Universe point of view, the galactic circuit that powers the sun generates a “leakage current” across Venus. The planet and its atmosphere act as a load in the circuit, converting some of the energy into heat, light and motion.
The image above is an infrared map in false color of lower-level clouds on Venus’s night side. It shows the radiant heat from the lower atmosphere shining through dark clouds of sulfuric acid. An electric explanation for Venus’s anomalous light, heat and atmospheric motion is to be preferred after realizing that the solar system is composed mostly of plasma instead of the smoke of oil lamps.