A band of dust that follows Venus along its entire orbital path has finally been viewed in full, thanks to a series of fortuitous maneuvers involving NASA’s Parker Solar Probe.
Astronomers suspected it was there, but now we know it’s real: a band of particles distributed along Venus’s orbital path around the Sun.
A paper detailing this discovery now appears in The Astrophysical Journal.
To date, the Parker Solar Probe has completed seven orbits around the Sun. Equipped with its Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR)—a pair of visible light telescopes—the spacecraft has been analyzing the Sun’s corona and solar wind. That’s the probe’s primary focus, but mission planners had also planned on using WISPR to study the presumed dust ring.
, the dust within this circumsolar ring is approximately 10% denser than the dust in outlying areas. The tiny particles that make up this ring are likely leftovers from the formation of the solar system and/or debris from colliding asteroids and disintegrating comets,