November 8, 2010 - Venus Vortex

Venus Vortex With only a brisk three years elapsing between approval and launch, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express mission earned its name. Launched five years ago this week, the ESA’s first mission to Venus has been uncovering the atmospheric secrets of this perpetually cloud-shrouded planet. In both of these composite images, blue represents ultraviolet images of the day-side cloud top layer at an altitude of about thirty-nine miles, and red represents infrared images of the lower layers of the cloud deck surrounding the planet at an altitude of about twenty-seven miles. The central panel of the bottom image, centered on the southern hemisphere, shows the unique double vortex at the south pole of Venus, at an altitude of about thirty-six miles, surrounded by a collar of "cold" air.

Image credit: Top: ESA / VIRTIS and VMC teams. Bottom: ESA / VIRTIS-VenusX IASF-INAF, Observatoire de Paris (R.Hueso, Univ. Bilbao)

Weekly Calendar

November 8-14, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 8

1656: Edmund Halley born
1984: STS-51A Discovery launched
1995: STS-74 Atlantis launched
2005: ESA’s Venus Express launched

Moon phase Tuesday 9

Vesta in conjunction with Sun
Mars 4° north of Antares

1934: Carl Sagan born
1967: Surveyor 6 lands on Moon
1967: Apollo 4 launched, first Saturn V launch

Moon phase Wednesday 10

1970: Luna 17 launched

Moon phase Thursday 11

Remembrance Day (Canada)
Veteran’s Day

1875: Vesto Slipher born
1966: Gemini XII launched
1982: STS-5 Columbia launched

Moon phase Friday 12

1833: Great Leonid Meteor Shower
1980: Voyager 1 flies past Saturn
1981: STS-2 Columbia launched

Moon phase Saturday 13

First Quarter Moon 11:39 AM ET

1971: Mariner 9 becomes first spacecraft to orbit Mars
1978: Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) launched

Moon phase Sunday 14

Neptune 5° south of Moon

1969: Apollo 12 launched, second lunar landing mission
2008: STS-126 Endeavour launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.