(ORDO NEWS) — New images from NASA‘s Parker Solar Probe have revealed the hot glow of Venus’s surface radiating through a veil of toxic clouds, a discovery that could help us better understand the minerals that make up this rocky and enigmatic planet.
Using data from the Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR), scientists were able to look under the planet’s dense atmosphere, revealing geological features such as highlands, plateaus and plains.
“Venus is the third brightest planet in the sky, but until recently we had little information about what its surface looked like because our view of it is obscured by a dense atmosphere,” says astrophysicist and WISPR team member Brian Wood of the Military -Marine Research USA.
“Now, for the first time, we are seeing the surface at visible wavelengths from space.”
Although Venus is relatively close to Earth, it is very difficult to study. It is known as Earth’s “evil twin” because, while similar to Earth in size, mass, structure, and composition, it is deeply hostile to life.
The earth is temperate and humid; Venus is dry and possibly volcanic, with an average surface temperature of 471 degrees Celsius (880 degrees Fahrenheit).
The sky of Venus is filled with thick poisonous clouds, from which sulfuric acid spills. These features make it difficult to study the planet at close range.
And these suffocating clouds make external observations of the surface not impossible, but difficult.
This is where WISPR surprised scientists. Last year, he took several pictures of the night side of Venus that seemed to show details of the surface through layers of clouds.
“The images and videos are amazing,” says Wood.
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