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40 years ago: our sister planet revealed

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Image credit: NASA

On February 5, 1974, NASA’s Mariner 10 returned this surprising image of Venus. The photograph was the first to record our neighboring planet’s clouds in such detail, polar vortex and all.

NASA isn’t above a little bit of image manipulation, though. In real color, Venus looks like this:

Image from NASA, processed by R. Nunes.

To generate the sharp, contrasty visage, Mariner’s UV camera filter blocked some of the haze reflected by high level clouds, while NASA “color-enhanced” the final image.

source: NASA

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. jtdwyer 12:31 am 02/6/2014

    Interesting – but why did they rotate the image?

    Link to this

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