ESA Missions Gear Up For Transit Of Venus
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.