This striking image of the nightside of the planet Venus from a distance of 12,380 kilometers has been captured by the Wide Field Imager for Parker Solar Probe , or WISPR.
The capture occurred unexpectedly during the mission’s third Venus gravitational assist on July 11, 2020.
WISPR is designed to image 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 through the spacecraft.
WISPR is designed and tested for visible light observations, so they expected to see clouds, but the camera looked directly at the surface. Thus, it effectively captured the thermal emission from the surface of Venus , detected a bright edge around the edge of the planet that may be a night glow – light emitted by oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere that recombine into molecules on the night side. .
The prominent dark feature in the center of the image is Aphrodite Terra, the largest mountainous region on the surface of Venus. The feature appears dark due to its lower temperature, about 30 ° C cooler than its surroundings .
On January 29, 2020, the trajectory of the Parker solar probe brought the spacecraft to a distance of approximately 18.6 million kilometers from the Sun, more than 5 million kilometers closer than previous flybys , so this, broke his record .