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Release of the first images of the surface of Venus in the visible spectrum

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The surface of the planet Venus.

During Parker’s fourth flyby of Venus, the WISPR instrument captured these images, assembled into a video, which show the night side of the planet.

Photo: NASA/APL/NRL

The images of Venus were captured during two flybys of the planet by the probe which took place in July 2020 and February 2021. A video of the entire night face of this neighbor of the Earth was produced from the Pictures.

The principal mission of the Parker probe is the study of the Sun, but Venus plays an important secondary role there since the gravity of the planet allows the probe to modify its orbit.

This gravitational boost from Venus brings Parker closer and closer to the Sun, which will give him the opportunity to study the dynamics of the solar wind near its source.

During its mission, the probe must use Venusian gravity seven times.

These flybys offer the probe an unexpected opportunity to capture unique images of the inner solar system. The images presented by NASA were captured during the third and fourth gravitational assists of Venus, when the Parker probe was at a distance of 12,380 kilometers from its surface.

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The images reveal distinct geological features, including continental, plains and plateau regions.

It is also possible to observe a luminescent halo of oxygen in the upper atmosphere of the planet.

Parker continues to exceed our expectations and we are excited that these groundbreaking observations made during our gravity assist maneuver can advance Venus research.says Nicola Fox of NASA in a press release.

These new images of Venus could help astronomers not only to better describe the geology of the surface of Venus but also to know the minerals which are there.

Given the similarities between Venus and Earth, this information will help scientists understand why Venus has become inhospitable while Earth has become an oasis. adds Mr. Fox.

Images captured by the WISPR camera of the surface of Venus.

Images captured by the WISPR camera (left) and during the Magellan mission (right).

Photo: ASA / APL / NRL / Team Magellan / JPL / USGS

The evening Star

Venus is the third-brightest celestial object in the sky, but until recently we didn’t have much information about what its surface looked like because our view was blocked by a thick atmosphere.explains Brian Wood, a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and lead author of the study published in the Geophysical Research LettersHave (New window)Have.

Now we see for the first time from space the surface [de Vénus] in visible wavelengths. »

A quote from Brian Wood, physicist

Clouds block much of the visible light coming from Venus’ surface, but the longer visible wavelengths, which border near-infrared wavelengths, manage to get through.

During the day, this red light is lost among the rays of the sun reflecting off the cloud tops of Venus, but in the dark of the night, the WISPR cameras were able to capture this faint glow caused by the intense heat that emanates from the surface.

Even on the night side, it’s so hot that the rocky surface of Venus is visibly glowing, like a piece of iron from a forge.explains Brian Wood.

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