(ABC4) – The first optical images of the hidden ground under the clouds of the planet Venus has been captured, well — since 1982.
On a flyby of Venus, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe captured the first visible-light images of the cloudy planet’s surface from space, a press release from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) states.
Venus’s surface is normally smothered in thick clouds — causing it to be shrouded from sight. But after two recent flybys of the planet, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe used its Wide-Field Imager (WISPR) to capture the entirety of the nightside in wavelengths through a type of light that the human eye can see.
The video captured shows a “faint glow from the surface that shows distinctive features like continental regions, plains, and plateaus.”
“Venus is the third brightest thing in the sky, but until recently we have not had much information on what the surface looked like because our view of it is blocked by a thick atmosphere,” said Brian Wood, lead author on the new study and physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. “Now, we finally are seeing the surface in visible wavelengths for the first time from space.”
The nightside view of the extremely hot surface could help scientists understand the contrasting evolution of Earth’s nearest neighbor.
These images of the planet, also known as Earth’s twin, can help scientists learn more about Venus’ surface geology, what minerals might be present there, and the planet’s evolution.