NASA scientists have managed to turn radio signals, picked up by the space agency’s Parker Solar Probe while performing a flyby of Venus in July 2020, into audio.
According to a NASA statement, the signals in question were originating from the planet’s ionosphere which "naturally emits radio waves" that can be detected by instruments such as FIELDS, a piece of equipment installed on the probe designed to measure magnetic fields in the solar corona.
Having examined the data obtained by the Parker Solar Probe (which approached the planet six months after the latest solar minimum) with information supplied by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter in 1992 (near the solar maximum), the space agency’s scientists concluded that the Venusian ionosphere is much thinner compared with the measurements from nearly three decades ago.
"When multiple missions are confirming the same result, one after the other, that gives you a lot of confidence that the thinning is real", said Robin Ramstad, post-doctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder and co-author of the new study.
The space agency also points out that figuring out why Venus’ ionosphere thins near the solar minimum is "one part of unravelling how Venus responds to the Sun", and may help scientists determine how that planet, despite its similarity to Earth, became such an inhospitable hot world with a toxic atmosphere.