Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Venus Mystery

 From Space:

As the sun's activity waxes and wanes, so too does the ionosphere of Venus, a key layer in the upper atmosphere, according to new observations that cinch a decades-old suspicion. The new observations come from NASA's Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that launched in 2018 on a daring path to inch ever closer to the sun. That trajectory relies on a series of seven close approaches of Venus that serve as steering maneuvers — and the spacecraft team decided to gather data during those flybys. 

During one such maneuver in July 2020, the probe made observations that support an intriguing and longstanding idea — that Venus' upper ionosphere contains many more charged plasma particles when the sun is more active and fewer when the sun is less active.

"When multiple missions are confirming the same result, one after the other, that gives you a lot of confidence that the thinning is real," Robin Ramstad, a physicist at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder and co-author on the new research, said in a NASA statement. (Read more.)


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