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Posted by Kim Lightle on September 24, 2013 at 1:30pm
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A projection of radar data of Venus collected in 2012. Striking surface features such as mountains and ridges are easily seen. The black diagonal band at the center represents areas too close to the Doppler "equator" to obtain well-resolved image data. The surface of Venus is shrouded beneath thick clouds--made mostly of carbon dioxide--and therefore difficult to see from Earth using optical telescopes. In order to penetrate this veil, astronomers must use radar to reveal the planet's features. Astronomers combined the highly sensitive receiving capabilities of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the powerful radar transmitter at NSF s Arecibo Observatory to create detailed images of the surface of Venus. The radar signals from Arecibo pass through both the Earth s atmosphere and the atmosphere of Venus, where they hit the surface and bounce back to be received by the GBT in a process known as bistatic radar.
Image credit: B. Campbell, Smithsonian, et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF, Arecibo