Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 July 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Venus Express Arrives at Venus
Credit: ESA/MPS, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

Explanation: Humanity now has a spacecraft orbiting Venus. The robotic Venus Express spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency in 2005 November arrived at Venus in 2006 April. Venus Express is now orbiting Earth's sister planet and returning pictures. Pictured above is a false-color, time-lapse movie in ultraviolet light captured by the Venus Express spacecraft as it flew over Venus' northern hemisphere in late May. Venus Express is scheduled to orbit Venus for three years and collect data that might help in answering questions that include why Venus continually generates hurricane-force winds, why Venus became so hot in the past, and if there is any current volcanic activity on Venus. It is hoped that a better understanding of Venus's hot and inhospitable climate will help humanity better understand Earth's climate as well.

Tomorrow's picture: noctilucent sweden

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