Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Venus from Cassini

Venus Through the Eyes of Cassini

On its way to its 2004 arrival at Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft made two flybys of Venus. However, due to the proximity of Venus to the sun (a big deal for a spacecraft designed for Saturn) combined with the fact that, due to budget constraints, much of its software was still in development, very little science data was taken. No imaging was done except for a sequence during which Venus serendipitously passed through the spacecraft's field of view. Since the Venusian clouds are nearly blank at visible wavelengths, this allowed it to be used to test Cassini's cameras. Most of the images look quite blank. However, one wide angle frame shows the terminator (the night/day boundary), and faint markings in the clouds can be seen. This false color image is a testament to the power of the Cassini camera - it was taken in red light, and most views of Venus in red light look blank. This little picture of the clouds of Venus makes me excited about the views to come with the arrival of the Europe's Venus Express mission in the spring.

1 comment:

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