The first image of the surface of Venus from NASA

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Earth’s “twin” planet, Venus, is surrounded by a dense cloud of toxic gases that prevent us from seeing its surface in the spectrum of visible light seen by humans. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, however, managed with the WISPR instrument to penetrate the atmosphere and give us for the first time an image of the geological characteristics of the surface such as mountains and plains.

“Venus is the third brightest object in the sky but until recently we did not have much information about its surface because we were blocked by the dense atmosphere. “Now we are finally seeing the surface in wavelengths of visible light for the first time from space,” said astrophysicist Brian Wood.

WISPR managed to catch the infrared radiation emitted by the night side of Venus. The temperatures on its rocky surface are so high that Venus actually shines, like a piece of iron coming out of a furnace. The images coincide with the radar images we have from the 1990 Magellan spacecraft. Due to the high altitude, the Aphrodite Terra is cooler than the rest of the surface and is visible close to the infrared range.

Although the images did not reveal anything new about the topography of the planet, heat emissions from different minerals will reveal the planet’s mineralogy, helping in turn to understand the story of Venus, which is considered rich in volcanic activity.

The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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