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. ESA Wants Amateur Astronomers To Help Venus Express

If you are an advanced amateur astronomer and want to contribute to the Venus Express mission, prepare your telescope and look at the sky for the Morning Star. Your images and data taken from the ground will complement the spacecraft's observations from Venusian orbit.
by Staff Writers
Paris France (SPX) Mar 19, 2006
ESA has established the Venus Amateur Observing Project to obtain high-quality images of the planet to supplement the work of its Venus Express spacecraft, which will enter orbit next month and begin its science mission in May.

The ground-observations campaign includes obtaining routine images of Venus during each appearance, and co-ordinated observations during specific moments of the mission to provide simultaneous or data complementary to the spacecraft observations.

The VAOP "is an opportunity to contribute scientifically useful images and data to complement the Venus Express spacecraft observations," ESA said in a statement. The space agency particularly wants to use the capabilities of "advanced amateurs" to obtain images of the Venusian atmosphere, such as specially filtered monochrome images obtained with CCD based cameras in the 350 nanometer to 1000 nanometer wavelengths in the near-ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared ranges.

Venus Express, or VEX, will observe the planet using seven instruments for at least two Venusian years about 1,000 days. The instrument package includes the Venus Imaging Camera, called the VMC, which will image the planet in the near-UV, visible and near-IR range. Although VMC will provide much higher resolution images of the planet than visible from Earth, continuous monitoring will not be possible there may be periods when parts of the planet are visible from Earth but not from the spacecraft, due to its position in orbit.

Also, ESA scientists think it is important to compare Earth-based observations with simultaneous spacecraft observations. "This will allow us to extend our understanding of the dynamics of Venus's atmosphere based on the VEX data to observations made prior to the VEX mission, as well as after completion of VEX operations," ESA said.

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Earth Set For Express Meeting With Venus
Key Largo FL (SPX) Mar 09, 2006
In warm and wet Key Largo, Florida, planetary scientists recently met to discuss a hot and dry place. The conference, "Exploring Venus as a Terrestrial Planet," was sponsored by the American Geophysical Union. Participants who woke before dawn and drove a short way to the Atlantic side of the Key were treated to the stunning sight of Venus rising as a bright golden star over the ocean waters.

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