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Could Venus Be Shifting Gear?

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered that our cloud-covered neighbour spins a little slower than previously measured. Peering through the dense atmosphere in the infrared, the orbiter found surface features were not quite where they should be.

Using the VIRTIS instrument at infrared wavelengths to penetrate the thick cloud cover, scientists studied surface features and discovered that some were displaced by up to 20 km from where they should be given the accepted rotation rate as measured by NASA’s Magellan orbiter in the early 1990s.

These detailed measurements from orbit are helping scientists determine whether Venus has a solid or liquid core, which will help our understanding of the planet’s creation and how it evolved.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEM0TLSXXXG_index_0.html

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Venus Has an Ozone Layer Too

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered an ozone layer high in the atmosphere of Venus. Comparing its properties with those of the equivalent layers on Earth and Mars will help astronomers refine their searches for life on other planets. The results are being presented today at the Joint Meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.

Venus Express made the discovery while watching stars seen right at the edge of the planet set through its atmosphere.  Its SPICAV instrument analysed the starlight, looking for the characteristic fingerprints of gases in the atmosphere as they absorbed light at specific wavelengths.

The ozone was detectable because it absorbed some of the ultraviolet from the starlight.

Full Story: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/outreach/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=357&Itemid=41