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Venus Express
Paolo
post Mar 14 2012, 11:13 AM
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ESA science tweeted this this morning

QUOTE
Last transit of #Venus this century 5-6 June 2012.Unique observation opportunity.Also @ESA's Venus Express is getting prepared


any more info? VEx is getting prepared for what exactly?


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Phil Stooke
post Mar 14 2012, 03:23 PM
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I don't know, but presumably any communication is impossible, so it may need to be protected from potential problems (certain safe modes etc.) during this period.

Phil



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cndwrld
post Mar 16 2012, 11:09 AM
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I don't know what they were tweeting. But the transit observations are being scheduled right now. The bus will be left largely nominal. There are no comms for three days, but the science instruments will operate during that period to capture data simultaneously with ground observations. On the back side, in eclipse, the ground track will happen to be over an area that is suspected of volcanic activity, and eclipse allows an attempt to get low-res images of the ground at about the same time as the transit.


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cndwrld
post Mar 16 2012, 11:12 AM
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VEX is back to nominal operations now.

http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Operations/SEM402BYLZG_0.html

We're hard to kill.


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cndwrld
post Mar 22 2012, 08:14 PM
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The status report for the period 15 January to 4 February 2012 is now
at the VEX Status Archive.


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cndwrld
post May 8 2012, 03:45 PM
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The VEX Mission Operations Report number 244 is now on-line at the VEX Status Report Archive,
here.


This report covers the 76th month of operations, including the start of the special 'quadrature' operations.


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TheAnt
post May 9 2012, 09:08 PM
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Thank you cndwrld, you guys plan anything special for the transit in about a months time?
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cndwrld
post May 10 2012, 08:57 AM
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The unfortunate thing about the transit is that Venus is so close to the Sun that we will lose communications. We got permission to operate the instruments, but a difficult thermal situation and the need to store all the data in memory for three days makes it difficult to do some observations.

In the day before and after the transit, we will be taking spectroscopic cloud data of the southern latitudes, in coordination with ground observers. On the day of the transit, we'll be taking direct solar observations, as well as some atmospheric observations using the sunlight diffraction in the upper to middle atmosphere.

At the European Space Astronomy Centre, the VEX team just put on a series of talks about the Transit, and how important they were historically and also how much they are still useful. But, if one is actually in orbit around Venus, there isn't really anything different than normal.

From what I've seen, the most interesting possible use of the transit and VEX is for studies about exoplanet atmospheres. We discover exoplanets outside our solar system by noticing their transits in front of their associated stars. With enough resolution, it is possible to resolve some details of the exoplanet atmospheres. So far, only done for a very few planets which are incredibly large gas planets. And it is incredibly difficult.

Think about our solar system: if one looked at our planets from afar as exoplanets, how would we remotely tell the difference between two almost identical planets, Earth and Venus, where one is Eden and the other is Hell?

The transit of Venus allows a test case. We can resolve the Venus atmosphere from Earth at the transit ingress and egress. VEX can use the SOIR instrument to record sunlight as the spacecraft goes behind the planet, 'following' the Sun as the light goes through the atmosphere. The data taken by VEX can be used as a baseline to compare the data taken of the refracted sunlight through the atmosphere as seen by Earth ground observers. It is hoped that this will be a useful test case for developing techniques to detect exoplanet atmospheres, as well as learn how to detect basic compositions of those atmospheres. That might allow researchers to determine which exoplanets might have habitable atmospheres, and which definitely do not.

Will it work? Who knows. It's Science!!


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TheAnt
post May 12 2012, 05:51 PM
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QUOTE (cndwrld @ May 10 2012, 10:57 AM) *
The unfortunate thing about the transit is that Venus is so close to the Sun that we will lose communications.


Thank you for your long reply.
And yes I did in fact expect that you would loose communications with Venus express during the actual transit.
So perhaps I should have phrased my question as if you had anything else planned, public outreach program or whatever. smile.gif

But yes, it is a good idea to use the transit as a testbed for exo-planet studies.
Not that I actually think we will find a second Earth any time soon, but such studies will be make it possible to find the promising planets for in-depth studies when the technology (and funding) might be available.
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cndwrld
post May 14 2012, 10:06 AM
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QUOTE (TheAnt @ May 12 2012, 07:51 PM) *
So perhaps I should have phrased my question as if you had anything else planned, public outreach program or whatever. smile.gif


For public outreach, the Venus Express Science Operations Centre is sending two people to Svalbard Island, above the Arctic Circle, with a solar telescope. Where we're located, near Madrid, there's no visibility. And there's limited visibility in Europe (for the most part). But above the Arctic Circle, the Sun doesn't set, so the transit will be visible. We have the 9" solar telescope, plus a normal telescope, and the mount. The team is finalizing testing now. And if the weather cooperates, we'll show the transit on the Web, live from Svalbard.

There is also a second team, with identical telescopes, who are going to Australia. They'll be watching the transit from the NASA Deep Space Network station near Canberra, and also broadcasting live on the Web.

For people in Europe, the EuroNews network has taped interviews at ESAC for the transit. They are putting together one of their nice 30 minute science shows about the transit, which will be out (I'm guessing) right before the transit.

That's all I know about right now.


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TheAnt
post May 14 2012, 05:59 PM
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Oh yes, after reading your reply I had a look at the transit map. And indeed, it will not be seen at all in Spain.
I am located far enough north in Europe that I expect to see most of the transit, but yes, it will start just after midnight.

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cndwrld
post May 16 2012, 03:19 PM
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A little more information about what Venus Express will be up to around the time of, and during, the Venus Transit on 05/06 June.

Venus Express will be making a sequence of observations around the time of the transit:


- The VMC camera will obtain sequences of images of Venus in UV, visible and IR during the time of the transit, from South to North latitudes.

- The VIRTIS imaging spectrometer (an imaging spectrometer that observes in the near-ultraviolet, visible, and infrared) team will obtain data in the visible channel from the South pole and southern latitudes.

- A full Sun disk Scan will be performed by the Spicav spectrometer (an imaging spectrometer that used for analyzing radiation in the infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths), just before the transit starts.

- there will be a solar occultation observation during the time of the transit, measured by the SOIR (Solar Occultation at Infrared) instrument team that will be used to observe the Sun through Venus's atmosphere in the infrared. This measurement is described here and more generally here. The SOIR team has a lot of information online and has a useful twitter feed at @BIRA_IASB . There will be 4-5 people from the SOIR team in Svalbard, observing the transit from one place in Europe (above the Arctic Circle) where it will be fully visible.

The Venus transit will be a special moment for the SOIR team and their colleagues in the scientific community. The SOIR commands that will be sent to the instrument will enable recording the spectra of CO2 on the whole Venus altitude range available to the SOIR instrument. These measurements will give us indirect information about the temperature. Absorption due to aerosols will also be investigated.

Thanks to collaborations with ground-based observers, simultaneous measurements have been planned, namely with Pr. T. Widemann (Observatoire de Paris, France) and Dr. B. Sandor (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, USA). Dr. B. Sandor will, for instance, observe the Venus transit from Mauna Kea, Hawaï, using the James Clerk Maxwell (JCMT) telescope.

The data obtained with SOIR and the telescopes will be compared. This will enable scientists studying the atmospheres of exoplanets outside our solar system to test their instruments against a known, real-world example.

Note that all data from VEX observations will not be downloaded to Earth until at least 48 hours after the transit, because there is no communication with the spacecraft when it is directly in front of the Sun.


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cndwrld
post Aug 20 2012, 01:23 PM
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There was too long a gap in the Venus Express status reports. We got pretty busy for a while. But the most recent one just went up on the VEX SciTech web page. Click on the Latest Status Report on this page. The next one should go up in a few days.


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cndwrld
post Aug 24 2012, 09:18 AM
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The VEX Status Report 246 is now on-line.

No. 246 - End of quadrature and eclipse seasons, continuation of the mission's longest Earth occultation season and start of the eighth Atmospheric Drag Experiment campaign
Report for the period 1 April to 28 April 2012

Click here and then click on the most recent date under "Latest Status Report".


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TheAnt
post Oct 4 2012, 09:45 PM
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Curious cold layer in the atmosphere of Venus even possible CO2 ice. Who could imagine on such a hot planet closer to the Sun.


More on this ESA page
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