Take a Rollercoaster Ride Around Venus

by Jason Major on January 21, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to buzz Venus like only a spacecraft can, here’s your chance: this is a video animation of images taken by ESA’s Venus Express as it makes a pole-to-pole orbit of our neighboring world.

Captured in ultraviolet wavelengths, the images were acquired by the spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera last January over a period of 18 hours. It’s truly a “day in the life” of Venus Express!

From ESA’s description of the video:

We join the spacecraft from a staggering 66,000 km above the south pole, staring down into the swirling south polar vortex. From this bird’s-eye view, half of the planet is in darkness, the ‘terminator’ marking the dividing line between the day and night sides of the planet.

Intricate features on smaller and smaller scales are revealed as Venus Express dives to just 250 km above the north pole and clouds flood the field of view, before regaining a global perspective as it climbs away from the north pole.

The observed pattern of bright and dark markings is caused by variations in an unknown absorbing chemical at the Venus cloud tops.

Read more: Are Venus’ Volcanoes Still Active?


False-color image of cloud features on Venus. Captured by Venus Express from a distance of 30,000 km (18,640 miles) on December 8, 2011. (ESA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Source: European Space Agency


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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