Transit of Venus

Saturn composite image

This false-color composite image, constructed from data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, shows Saturn’s rings and southern hemisphere. The composite image was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum on Nov. 1, 2008. The observations were each six minutes long. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This Friday, Dec. 21, the spectrometer will be tracking the path of Venus across the face of the sun from its perch in the Saturn system. Earthlings saw such a transit earlier this year, from June 5 to 6. But the observation in December will be the first time a spacecraft has tracked a transit of a planet in our solar system from beyond Earth orbit.

Cassini will collect data on the molecules in Venus’s atmosphere as sunlight shines through it. But learning about Venus actually isn’t the point of the observation. Scientists actually want to use the occasion to test the VIMS instrument’s capacity for observing planets outside our solar system.

“Interest in infrared investigations of extrasolar planets has exploded in the years since Cassini launched, so we had no idea at the time that we’d ask VIMS to learn this new kind of trick,” said Phil Nicholson, the VIMS team member based at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., who is overseeing the transit observations. “But VIMS has worked so well at Saturn so far that we can start thinking about other things it can do.”

Cassini Instrument Learns New Tricks on Venus Tranit of Saturn – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory http://ow.ly/ghgmy

Cassini Transit of Venus

December 20, 2012 Get the Full story at NASA
This graphic shows the path of Venus across the face of the sun on Dec. 21, 2012, as will be seen by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in the Saturn system. This will be the first time a spacecraft has tracked a transit of a planet in our solar system from beyond Earth orbit.

Various Articles of Interest:

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One thought on “Transit of Venus

  1. Pingback: Astronomy News at Sen & Solar Winds | Astro At A Glance

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