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.

2023 July 3
Planet Venus is pictured in ultraviolet light. The 
spherical planet appears circular in tan colors with hints
of blue. Complex cloud patterns are evident. 
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

Venus in Ultraviolet from Akatsuki
Image Credit & Copyright: JAXA, Planet-C Project Team; h/t: Mehmet Hakan Özsaraç

Explanation: Why is Venus so different from Earth? To help find out, Japan launched the robotic Akatsuki spacecraft which entered orbit around Venus late in 2015 after an unplanned five-year adventure around the inner Solar System. Even though Akatsuki was past its original planned lifetime, the spacecraft and instruments were operating so well that much of its original mission was reinstated. Also known as the Venus Climate Orbiter, Akatsuki's instruments investigated unknowns about Earth's sister planet, including whether volcanoes are still active, whether lightning occurs in the dense atmosphere, and why wind speeds greatly exceed the planet's rotation speed. In the featured image taken by Akatsuki's UVI camera, the day-side of Venus is seen shown with planet-scale V-shaped cloud pattern. The image displays three ultraviolet colors and indicates a dip in the relative abundance of sulfur dioxide shown in faint blue. Analyses of Akatsuki images and data has shown, among other discoveries, that Venus has equatorial jet similar to Earth's jet stream.

Tomorrow's picture: sudden sky surprise

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