NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Naval Research Laboratory/Guillermo Stenborg and Brendan Gallagher
Gotta Hit Them Angles

This Photo of Venus Shocked Scientists. Here’s Why.

byTony Tran
Feb 27
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Naval Research Laboratory/Guillermo Stenborg and Brendan Gallagher

The photo is part of a surprising twist involving a probe's camera.

Fly By Photograph

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe got the souvenir of a lifetime during its trip to study the Sun last year. 

The probe snapped this stunning photo of Venus on July 11, 2020, according to NASA. The photo showcases amazing details of the Venusian surface from 7,693 miles away—but one particular detail in it, released by NASA this week, has scientists excited.

Careless WISPR

The probe used its onboard Wide-field Imager (WISPR) to capture the photo. Though the instrument was designed to capture images of the sun’s corona, NASA was also able to use it to capture thermal information about the planet—something they didn’t know the instrument could do. 

“WISPR is tailored and tested for visible light observations,” explains Angelos Vourlidas, WISPR project scientist from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “We expected to see clouds, but the camera peered right through the surface.”

Advertisement

In the center of the planet, you can see a dark area identified as Aphrodite Terra, which is the largest highland area on Venus. The reason it’s darker is because it’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the surrounding area. That indicates that WISPR is able to capture thermal data along with light data.  

“Either way, some exciting science opportunities await us,” Vourlidas adds.

Sun Bound

Though the probe’s photo was a welcome surprise to researchers, Parker’s actual goal is to study the Sun. That’s why it’s speeding by Venus for a gravity assist seven times, as part of its seven-year mission. 

The above photo was taken during its third fly-by of the planet. The probe more recently passed by Venus on February 20 on its next approach to the Sun.

Advertisement

Maybe a year from now we’ll get another mind-blowing photo of the Venusian surface. For now, we’ll just have to settle for all the insane images from Mars Perseverance in the meantime.

READ MORE: Parker Solar Probe Offers Stunning View of Venus [NASA]

More on Venus: MIT Scientists Suggest LIfe Could Thrive in the Clouds of Venus


As a Futurism reader, we invite you join the Singularity Global Community, our parent company’s forum to discuss futuristic science & technology with like-minded people from all over the world. It’s free to join, sign up now!

Advertisement

Share This Article

Copyright ©, Singularity Education Group All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.