Parker solar probe provides stunning view of Venus (2 photos)

NASA has published unique viewsVenus, taken by the Parker Solar Probe space probe during its next flyby near the planet in July 2020. The new data provided NASA astronomers and engineers with information to think about new capabilities of the probe's equipment, or about the discovery of new phenomena in the atmosphere of Venus.

The main focus of Parker's research is the Sun,however, Venus plays a major role in gravitational correction of the probe's trajectory. During the 7 years of the expedition, Parker will fly seven times near Venus to change its orbit, allowing the spacecraft to fly closer and closer to the Sun to study the dynamics of the solar wind in detail. During the third flyby cycle near Venus in July 2020, unique images were taken from a distance of 12,380 km.

For more information on VenusThe WISPR instrument (Wide-field Imager from Parker Solar Probe) was used, which detected a bright glow around the edge of the planet, and also recorded in the center of the image a bright dark object identified by astronomers as the mountainous region of Aphrodite Terra. The object appears dark due to the lower temperature, approximately 30 degrees Celsius colder than the temperature of the surrounding surface. Meanwhile, astronomers hoped to see only clouds covering the planet in the image.

As a result, NASA scientists are re-examiningtechnical characteristics of WISPR in terms of the sensitivity of the device to infrared light. If WISPR can indeed capture infrared light waves, it will provide new opportunities for studying dust around the Sun and in the inner solar system. If the sensitivity is within the norm, then scientists will be able to argue that the image showed the features of the atmosphere of Venus in the form of a "window" unknown to science in the planet's cloudiness.

On February 20, 2021, Parker made anotherpictures during the next flyby near the surface of Venus. In the coming months, roughly in April, NASA scientists will compare the obtained images and give a more detailed answer to the questions that have arisen after obtaining unique photographs.