Parker probe found an oxygen halo near the surface of Venus

(ORDO NEWS) — In its spare time from its main mission, the Parker solar probe made the first images of Venus in visible light. These are very valuable images, because they will provide scientists with valuable information about the geology of the planet.

By combining the new images with previous ones, scientists will be able to study a wider range of wavelengths, NASA says. This will help determine what minerals are on the surface of the planet.

The method by which astronomers want to learn more about the hidden surface of Venus has previously been used to study the surface of the moon, the US space agency added.

The Parker Solar Probe’s Wide Field Thermal Imager (WISPR) captured visible and infrared images of the entire night side of Venus, revealing the continents, plains and plateaus of the second planet from the Sun. In addition, scientists have discovered oxygen in the atmosphere of Venus, forming a halo around the planet.

Why didn’t scientists get similar rather obvious data before? To be clear, seeing the surface of Venus in visible light is not an easy task. After all, the second planet is wrapped in a cocoon of dense clouds.

But this is not the first time that WISPR has helped to capture such images of Venus: the last time it happened during a flyby of the planet in July 2020. However, at that time the device took images only of the day side of the planet.

The main purpose of WISPR is to “look” directly at the Sun, revealing the smallest details on its surface, and catching the slightest changes in the constant stream of particles emanating from the star. It turns out that these possibilities are well suited for studying Venus.

Parker probe found an oxygen halo near the surface of Venus                Images of Venus taken by the Parker Solar Probe during its fourth flyby in February 2021.
                                                                  NASA/APL/NRL video.

NASA explains that clouds block most of the visible light coming from the surface of Venus. However, the longest visible wavelengths, which border on the near-infrared range, break through the planet’s dense atmosphere.

True, such red light is usually lost in daylight (lit by the Sun) images. But the researchers hoped that the “night” flyby would allow WISPR to see the heat emanating from Venus.

This chance presented itself in February 2021, during the fourth flyby of Venus, when Parker first passed the night side of the planet.

“The surface temperature of Venus, even on the night side, is about 460 degrees Celsius,” said study lead author Brian Wood, a physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. forge”.

WISPR has captured wavelengths ranging from near-infrared (perceived as heat by our body) to visible, between 470 and 800 nanometers. This new study differs from previous ones, which relied on radar and infrared observations to study the surface of the second planet.

NASA said the new WISPR images of areas such as the Aphrodite Land continental region, the Tellus Plateau and the Aino Plain can be compared with their images from other missions. This will provide more information about the history of the planet.

In addition, since the Earth and Venus are terrestrial planets, such studies can help scientists generalize ideas about the evolution of such rocky planets.

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