Parker Solar Probe detects a radio signal from Venus' atmosphere
May 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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The Parker Solar Probe is on a mission to study the sun, but it keeps revealing more about mysterious planetary neighbor Venus. During a July 2020 flyby, the spacecraft picked up a radio signal indicating it flew through the upper atmosphere of Venus.
(CNN)The Parker Solar Probe is on a mission to study the sun, but it keeps discovering new, intriguing things about our mysterious planetary neighbor Venus.
The spacecraft uses the gravity of Venus as it swings around the planet, called a gravity assist, to help bend the probe's orbit and bring it closer and closer to the sun.
During one of these Venusian flybys on July 11, 2020, the probe collected evidence that Venus' upper atmosphere goes through some unusual changes that are influenced by the solar cycle, or our sun's 11-year activity cycle.
During the third Venus flyby, Parker Solar Probe's FIELDS instrument, which measures electric and magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere, detected a natural radio signal at a low frequency.
Comparing the data revealed something scientists have suspected for a long time: Venus' ionosphere changes in response to the sun's activity across its solar cycle.
"The goal of flying by Venus is to slow down the spacecraft so that Parker Solar Probe can dive closer to the Sun," said Nour E.