On the Status of the Rotation of Venus
Abstract
Owing to its extremely slow rotation, Venus must be regarded as a triaxial body with differences of all three principal moments of inertia comparable in magnitude, thus rendering it a body essentially different from a rapidly rotating planet. The dynamical problem then arises of how such a body, with a rotationperiod comparable with its orbital period, would be affected by couples exerted upon it by the gravitational action of the Sun. Equations for the rotatory motion are set up in a form suitable for numerical solution by machinecalculations, but the problem so presented can be adequately investigated only for a hypothetical planet with far larger differences of principal moments than could hold for Venus. Results obtained on this limited basis nevertheless suggest that for the actual planet the direction of the rotation axis may move almost randomly between the two hemispheres defined by the orbital plane and thus that the present direction near the south celestial pole of the orbit may be only a temporary situation. Orderofmagnitude considerations based on the equations of motion suggest that a timescale of order 10^{7} to 10^{8} yr may on average be required for large changes in direction of the rotation axis to take place.
 Publication:

Astrophysics and Space Science
 Pub Date:
 February 1974
 DOI:
 10.1007/BF00645627
 Bibcode:
 1974Ap&SS..26..497L