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?Rainbow? on Venus Seen for First Time



False colour composite of a ?glory? seen on Venus on 24 July 2011. The image is composed of three images at ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths from the Venus Monitoring Camera. The images were taken 10 seconds apart and, due to the motion of the spacecraft, do not overlap perfectly. The glory is 1200 km across, as seen from the spacecraft, 6000 km away. Credit: ESA/MPS/DLR/IDA.


Oh glory! A rainbow-like optical phenomenon known as a ?glory? has been imaged for the first time on another planet. It was seen in the atmosphere of our nearest neighbor, Venus by ESA?s Venus Express orbiter.

Rainbows and glories occur when sunlight shines on cloud droplets. While rainbows arch across the sky, glories appear as circular rings of colored concentric rings centered on a bright core.


Glories are only seen when the observer is situated directly between the Sun and the cloud particles that are reflecting sunlight. On Earth, they can often be seen with the naked eye from airplanes, or when looking down upon fog or water vapor, such as when climbing a mountain.

On Earth, the simple ingredients needed for a rainbow are sunlight and raindrops. On Venus, the droplets are likely made of sulfuric acid.


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