In a study published on May 03, 2021, in the journal Geophysical Research, scientists revealed that Venus’ upper atmosphere has changed a lot during a solar cycle, the Sun’s 11-years cycle.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, during a brief swing by Venus in July 2020, that reveals the probe flew by the upper atmosphere of Venus and detected a natural radio signal
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe: Key findings
•The Parker probe’s flyby in July 2020 by the upper atmosphere of Venus helped in getting the first direct measurement of the atmosphere of Venus in about 30 years.
•Previously, NASA’s Pioneer Venus Orbiter from 1978 to 1992 and the European Space Agency’s Venus Express from 2005 to 2014 had orbited Venus.
•30 years later during the flyby in 2020, the scientists received data that helped them in calculating the density of the atmosphere of Venus.
•Scientists learned that the Ionosphere of Venus changes in accordance with Sun’s solar cycle. They noted that Venus’ ionosphere is thinner during solar minimum compared to solar maximum.
•The probe also took an image of Venus when it came within 517 miles of the planet’s surface.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe: Significance
•The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 as a solar mission to analyze the Sun. The probe’s flyby has been programmed to leverage Venus’ gravity so that the probe can fly closer to the Sun. However, it keeps stumbling upon new facts about the Venusian atmosphere.
•Both, the Earth and Venus are rocky and similar in size, however, something caused both planets to diverge their trajectory during formation. The data collected by the Parker probe is assisting scientists to understand what caused the Earth and Venus to have differences despite being called twins.
•It is extremely difficult to explore Venus with a spacecraft as it lacks a magnetic field and inhabits blazingly high temperatures, enough to melt lead. No spacecraft would be able to survive more than a couple of hours while descending.
•Hence, Scientists see the instances of the Parker probe flying by Venus as opportunities to gather unique insights and scientific data about the planet.