Parker Solar Probe offers stunning view of Venus
(Press-News.org) NASA's Parker Solar Probe captured stunning views of Venus during its close flyby of the planet in July 2020.
Though Parker Solar Probe's focus is the Sun, Venus plays a critical role in the mission: The spacecraft whips by Venus a total of seven times over the course of its seven-year mission, using the planet's gravity to bend the spacecraft's orbit. These Venus gravity assists allow Parker Solar Probe to fly closer and closer to the Sun on its mission to study the dynamics of the solar wind close to its source.
But -- along with the orbital dynamics -- these passes can also yield some unique and even unexpected views of the inner solar system. During the mission's third Venus gravity assist on July 11, 2020, the onboard Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, or WISPR, captured a striking image of the planet's nightside from 7,693 miles away.
WISPR is designed to take images of the solar corona and inner heliosphere in visible light, as well as images of the solar wind and its structures as they approach and fly by the spacecraft. At Venus, the camera detected a bright rim around the edge of the planet that may be nightglow -- light emitted by oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere that recombine into molecules in the nightside. The prominent dark feature in the center of the image is Aphrodite Terra, the largest highland region on the Venusian surface. The feature appears dark because of its lower temperature, about 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) cooler than its surroundings.
That aspect of the image took the team by surprise, said Angelos Vourlidas, the WISPR project scientist from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, who coordinated a WISPR imaging campaign with Japan's Venus-orbiting Akatsuki mission. "WISPR is tailored and tested for visible light observations. We expected to see clouds, but the camera peered right through to the surface."
"WISPR effectively captured the thermal emission of the Venusian surface," said Brian Wood, an astrophysicist and WISPR team member from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. "It's very similar to images acquired by the Akatsuki spacecraft at near-infrared wavelengths."
This surprising observation sent the WISPR team back to the lab to measure the instrument's sensitivity to infrared light. If WISPR can indeed pick up near-infrared wavelengths of light, the unforeseen capability would provide new opportunities to study dust around the Sun and in the inner solar system. If it can't pick up extra infrared wavelengths, then these images -- showing signatures of features on Venus' surface -- may have revealed a previously unknown "window" through the Venusian atmosphere.
"Either way," Vourlidas said, "some exciting science opportunities await us."
For more insight into the July 2020 images, the WISPR team planned a set of similar observations of the Venusian nightside during Parker Solar Probe's latest Venus flyby on Feb. 20, 2021. Mission team scientists expect to receive and process that data for analysis by the end of April.
"We are really looking forward to these new images," said Javier Peralta, a planetary scientist from the Akatsuki team, who first suggested a Parker Solar Probe campaign with Akatsuki, which has been in orbiting Venus since 2015. "If WISPR can sense the thermal emission from the surface of Venus and nightglow -- most likely from oxygen -- at the limb of the planet, it can make valuable contributions to studies of the Venusian surface."
Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA's Living with a Star program to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The Living with a Star program is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Johns Hopkins APL designed, built and operates the spacecraft.
[Attachments] See images for this press release:
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Evolutionary expert Charles Darwin and others recognized a close evolutionary relationship between humans, chimps and gorillas based on their shared anatomies, raising some big questions: how are humans related to other primates, and exactly how did early humans move around? Research by a Texas A&M University professor may provide some answers.
Thomas Cody Prang, assistant professor of anthropology, and colleagues examined the skeletal remains of Ardipithecus ramidus ("Ardi"), dated to 4.4 million years old and found in Ethiopia. One of Ardi's hands was exceptionally well-preserved.
The researchers compared the shape of Ardi's hand to hundreds of other hand specimens representing recent humans, apes and monkeys (measured ...
A study co-authored by scientists at the New England Aquarium has found that known deaths of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales represent a fraction of the true death toll. This comes as the death of a calf and recent sightings of entangled right whales off the southeastern United States raise alarm.
The study, published this month in END ...
Ithaca, NY-- During mating season, male bearded seals make loud calls to attract a mate--even their "quiet" call could still be as ear-rattling as a chainsaw. Bearded seals have to be loud to be heard over the cacophony of their equally loud brethren. And, increasingly, the noise humans make is adding to the underwater din and could have serious consequences. A study conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Center for Conservation Bioacoustics (CCB) aims to understand how resilient bearded seals can be to changes in ambient underwater noise. The results are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science.
"We wanted to know whether bearded seals would call louder when ...
Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have developed a new machine learning-powered platform, known as OC-SMART, that can process ocean color in satellite images 10 times faster than the world's leading platform. The work, which will be adopted by NASA, is one of the first machine learning-based platforms in ocean color analysis that can process both coastal and open ocean regions globally to reveal data on sea health and the impact of climate change.
The work, led by Knut Stamnes, a physics professor at Stevens, and spearheaded by Yongzhen Fan Ph.D. '16, a visiting physics scholar in Stamnes' lab, solves a 30-year-old problem in retrieving data from both coastal regions and open ocean areas. For decades, NASA's SeaDAS platform exceled at analyzing ocean color ...
For more than 150 years, scientists have been incorrectly classifying a group of fossil insects as damselflies, the familiar cousins of dragonflies that flit around wetlands eating mosquitoes. While they are strikingly similar, these fossils have oddly shaped heads, which researchers have always attributed to distortion resulting from the fossilization process.
Now, however, a team of researchers led by Simon Fraser University (SFU) paleontologist Bruce Archibald has discovered they aren't damselflies at all, but represent a major new insect group closely related to them.
The findings, published today in Zootaxa, show that the distinctive shape of the insect's non-protruding, ...
When people hear botulinum toxin, they often think one of two things: a cosmetic that makes frown lines disappear or a deadly poison.
But the "miracle poison," as it's also known, has been approved by the F.D.A. to treat a suite of maladies like chronic migraines, uncontrolled blinking, and certain muscle spasms. And now, a team of researchers from Harvard University and the Broad Institute have, for the first time, proved they could rapidly evolve the toxin in the laboratory to target a variety of different proteins, creating a suite of bespoke, super-selective ...
A Brazilian study published (http://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-20217-w) in Nature Communications shows that human activities have directly or indirectly caused biodiversity and biomass losses in over 80% of the remaining Atlantic Rainforest fragments.
According to the authors, in terms of carbon storage, the biomass erosion corresponds to the destruction of 70,000 square kilometers (km²) of forest - almost 10 million soccer pitches - or USD 2.3 billion-USD 2.6 billion in carbon credits. "These figures have direct implications for mechanisms of climate change mitigation," they state in the article.
Atlantic Rainforest remnants ...
DALLAS - Feb. 24, 2021 - Using machine learning tools to analyze hundreds of proteins, UT Southwestern researchers have identified a group of biomarkers in blood that could lead to an earlier diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and, in turn, more effective therapies sooner.
The identification of nine serum proteins that strongly predict ASD were reported in a study published today by PLOS ONE.
Earlier diagnosis, followed by prompt therapeutic support and intervention, could have a significant impact on the 1 in 59 children diagnosed with autism in the United States. Being able to identify children on the autism spectrum when they are toddlers could make a big difference, says Dwight German, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern ...
For decades, climate change researchers and activists have used dramatic forecasts to attempt to influence public perception of the problem and as a call to action on climate change. These forecasts have frequently been for events that might be called "apocalyptic," because they predict cataclysmic events resulting from climate change.
In a new paper published in the International Journal of Global Warming, Carnegie Mellon University's David Rode and Paul Fischbeck argue that making such forecasts can be counterproductive. "Truly apocalyptic forecasts can only ever be observed in their failure--that is the world did not end as predicted," says Rode, adjunct research faculty with the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center, "and observing ...
Parenthood leads to greater reductions in short-term research productivity for mothers across three disciplines than for fathers, largely explaining the publication gender gap between women and men in academia, according to an analysis of survey data from 3,064 tenure track faculty at PhD-granting universities in the U.S. and Canada. The findings suggest that policies designed to boost workplace flexibility for parents, including easily accessible lactation rooms and affordable childcare, may help to ease the impact of parenthood on mothers in academia, giving them more time for research. While a large body of previous research across academic fields has shown that men tend to publish more papers than women, the reasons for this have remained uncertain. ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:
[Press-News.org] Parker Solar Probe offers stunning view of Venus