Archive

Archive for June 5, 2012

ESA Missions Gear Up For Transit Of Venus

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

ESA’s Venus Express and Proba-2 space missions, along with the international SOHO, Hinode, and Hubble spacecraft, are preparing to monitor Venus and the Sun during the transit of Earth’s sister planet during 5-6 June. ESA’s Venus Express is the only spacecraft orbiting Venus at the moment and while the transit is being watched from Earth, it too will use light from the Sun to study the planet’s atmosphere.

As sunlight filters through the atmosphere it reveals the concentration of different gas molecules at different altitudes.

Meanwhile, NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope will use the Moon as a giant mirror to capture diffuse, reflected sunlight: a small fraction of that light will have passed through the atmosphere of Venus en-route to the Moon.

This will test techniques aimed at measuring the atmospheres of Earth-sized rocky exoplanets that could potentially reveal traces of life on planets outside our Solar System.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM33Q4XX2H_index_0.html

Advertisements

ISS Transit of Venus

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

High above Earth, astronaut Don Pettit is preparing to photograph the June 5th Transit of Venus from space itself.
“I’ve been planning this for a while,” says Pettit, who serves as Flight Engineer onboard the International Space Station. “I knew the Transit of Venus would occur during my rotation, so I brought a solar filter with me when my expedition left for the ISS in December 2011.”
Because transits of Venus come in pairs that occur once every 100 years or so, humans have rarely had the chance to photograph the apparition from Earth, much less from Earth orbit.

“The Expedition 31 crew will be the first people in history to see a Venus transit from space, and Pettit will be the first to photograph one,” says Mario Runco, Jr. of the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Runco, an astronaut himself who flew aboard three shuttle missions, is an expert in the optics of spacecraft windows. Along with his wife Susan Runco, who is the coordinator for astronaut photography at JSC, Mario is helping Pettit gather the best possible images of the transit.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/ISS-VenusTransit.html

SDO To Observe Venus Transit

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

On June 5, 2012 at 6:03 PM EDT, the planet Venus will do something it has done only seven times since the invention of the telescope: cross in front of the sun. This transit is among the rarest of planetary alignments and it has an odd cycle. Two such Venus transits always occur within eight years of each other and then there is a break of either 105 or 121 years before it happens again.
The moments when Venus first appears to cross the limb of the sun and the moments it leaves, known as ingress and egress respectively, are historically the most scientifically important aspects of the transit since comparison of Venus’s journey viewed from different points on Earth provided one of the earliest ways to determine the distance between Earth and the sun. The transit is also helpful to scientists today: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be watching the June 2012 transit to help calibrate its instruments as well as to learn more about Venus’s atmosphere.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/news/venus-transit.html

“Once in a Lifetime Opportunity” Science Planned on the JCMT During the Transit of Venus

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, is one of the few telescopes in the world capable of directly observing the planet Venus as it transits across the face of the Sun, and it plans to take full advantage of this last opportunity for 115 years.

The transit of Venus, occurring on 5th June 2012, is when Venus passes directly between the Sun and the Earth; as it does so, it can be seen as a tiny disk crossing the face of the Sun. This is one of the rarest astronomical events and will not be seen again until 2117.

Very few telescopes will be able to observe this event as they cannot point directly at the Sun without destroying their delicate instruments. The JCMT, the largest dedicated submillimetre telescope in the world, has no such problem and is the only telescope out of the ten on the summit of Mauna Kea with this capability. Its dish is protected by a screen of Gore-Tex fabric the largest single piece in the world – which blocks the damaging solar radiation, while still allowing the submillimetre light to pass through.

Full Story: http://outreach.jach.hawaii.edu/pressroom/2012-venus_transit/index.html