April 11, 2007—Love shines bright, even in the vast reaches of outer space.
Scientists have known since 1979 that the unusual "airglow" of Venus is produced by oxygen atoms in the planet's atmosphere combining to form molecular oxygen (O2), a reaction that emits light. Now recently released infrared images of the airglow should help researchers better understand the dynamics of the Venutian atmosphere.
The images above, taken by the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft, show the airglow in blue and the different cloud thicknesses in the atmosphere in shades of yellow.
This unprecedented view of the phenomenon, scientists say, will allow them to track the airglow's evolution and movement. The data should offer new insights into the chemistry of Venus's atmosphere as well as the ways in which different atmospheric layers interact.