The Imager on board NASA’s Parker Solar Probe observed the Night Side View of Venus recently. A report published on Sci-News dated 10th February 2022 shows details of this. The Wide-Field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) imager observed the Night Side View of Venus and unexpectedly penetrated its thick atmosphere. It detected Thermal Emission from the Planet’s surface. This is the first detection of the surface of Venus by an Optical Telescope.
The Thermal Emission could be detected due to the high temperature of the Venusian Surface. The temperature reaches about 462 degrees Celsius even on the Night Side. The WISPR images show a bright rim of emission at the limb. This is associated with Nightglow Emission from Molecular Oxygen, somewhat analogous to Auroral Emissions observed at Earth.
The Parker Solar Probe took the first few images of Venus on July 11, 2020 during its third flyby. The WISPR was designed to capture faint features in the Solar Atmosphere and Wind but could see through to the surface of the planet. During its 2021 flyby, the Parker’s orbit was lined up perfectly for WISPR to image he Venus’ Night Side completely. They turned on the Cameras again during the fourth pass on 20th February 2021.
Read the complete report as reported on Sci-News here
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