Infrared image of the lower clouds of Venus. This false-colour image is a near infra-red view of the clouds on the night side of Venus, obtained by the instrument NIMS on the Galileo probe as it approached the planet on the 10th February 1990. The view shows the middle atmosphere (corresponding to altitudes 50-55km above the surface) as turbulent and cloudy. The red colour indicates the heat emitted by the lower atmosphere, shining through the cloud layer, which seem 10 times darker than the brighter holes between the clouds. This cloud layer is at a temperature of -30°C.
The clouds seem fluffy but form large compact groups; in the north they form filaments oriented from the east to the west and at the poles they form a complete blanket.