NASA has released the recording of a radio signal that came from the upper atmosphere of Venus.
The space agency published the recording on 3 May.
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The recording was captured by NASA’s Parker Space Probe as it passed the planet during its mission to the Sun.
What was a NASA probe doing near Venus?
The Parker Space Probe was launched in August 2018. Its mission is to study the Sun and the solar winds that originate from it.
In July 2020, the probe made its third flyby past Venus. The flyby helps the probe get closer to the Sun by using the planet’s gravity field.
During the flyby, the probe’s FIELDS instrumentation picked up the signal. It was the closest flyby to the planet ever made as it passed just 833 kilometres from its surface. The signal was detected for seven minutes.
“I was just so excited to have new data from Venus,” said one of the study’s lead scientists, Glyn Collinson.
You can listen to a recording of the radio signal below:
Similar to Earth, Venus has an electrically charged layer of gas at the upper edge of its atmosphere called the ionosphere. This layer emits natural radio waves which NASA researchers used to calculate its density.
It was the first time that a direct measurement of Venus’ atmosphere had been taken since 1992.
Since then, solar cycles have resulted in the planet’s ionosphere thinning. This was impossible to confirm until a direct measurement was taken.
Furthermore, the finding helps researchers understand how Venus responds to the Sun.
The Parker Solar Probe will complete seven flybys past Venus during its seven-year mission. It will fly within 6.1 kilometres of the Sun’s surface, making it the closest man-made object to ever go near it.
Feature image: NASA/JPL