The next Venus rover will have a steampunk vibe

Hybrid Autonomous Rover – Venus is the next spacecraft scheduled to explore our hellish neighbor, and it will be more like a clock than a computer to survive the conditions. Read the rest

Modified ground telescope captures this remarkable Neptune photo

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) got this cool shot of Venus by using new adaptive optics that ignore earth's atmosphere while imaging celestial phenomena.

Via Universe Today:

In astronomy, adaptive optics refers to a technique where instruments are able to compensate for the blurring effect caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which is a serious issue when it comes to ground-based telescopes. Basically, as light passes through our atmosphere, it becomes distorted and causes distant objects to become blurred (which is why stars appear to twinkle when seen with the naked eye).

Head over to the article to see a remarkable before and after shot.

This is a photo of Neptune, from the ground! ESO's new adaptive optics makes ground telescopes ignore the earth's atmosphere (Universe Today)

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A case for colonizing Venus, Jetsons style

Venus is not exactly a hospitable-sounding place. The planet's surface can reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmospheric pressure is close to the psi found in a hydraulic car crusher . None of the landers that touched down there lasted more than an hour. Generally, it's a not a place that sounds very friendly to humans. But that's all on the surface. Just 30 miles up, conditions on Venus become incredibly Earth-like. In fact, the upper atmosphere of Venus is home to the most Earth-like conditions in our entire solar system. Read the rest

NASA had Apollo-era plans to send humans to Mars and Venus

In an alternate universe — one where Americans had a LOT more enthusiasm for spending money on massive space projects than we've ever actually demonstrated — the 1970s and 1980s might have been the era of manned missions to Mars and Venus. Amy Shira Teitel writes about how this could have been possible, using only the now-antiquated technology that got us to the Moon and back. Read the rest

The surface of Venus

I love rediscovering cool things. I'm sure I learned, at some point, that the Soviet Union had once sent probes to land on the surface of Venus. But I had completely forgotten this fact until today.

This photo comes from Venera 9, which landed on Venus on October 22, 1975. The lander remained operational for 53 minutes, which isn't bad considering we're talking about a planet with hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid in the atmosphere, and a surface temperature (as measured by Venera 9) of 905° F.

The photo — at three different phases of processing — comes from the website of Don Mitchell, an enthusiast of Soviet space history. Mitchell did the processing that resulted in the clear, bottom image in this stack.

The upper image is the raw 6-bit data. The center images include the telemetry brust replacements, with remaining bursts blacked out. The 6-bit values have been transformed to linear brightness, using the published photometric function of the camera, and then converted to sRGB standard form (gamma 2.2). In the final version, I filled in missing regions, using Bertalmio's inpainting algorithm.

Read more about these photos at Don Mitchell's website • Read more about the Venera landers and how they survived on Venus

Thanks to OMG Facts for reminding me of this cool bit of history

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Belly Time lapse transit of Venus

"Last time you'll see that for 105 years."—Sam Cornwell. [Video Link] Read the rest

Now under way: Transit of Venus across face of the Sun

Q: Can I put 10 pairs of sunglasses together to view the sun? A: Not unless you are currently not blind, but wish to become so.

A better bet: watch the Griffith Observatory webcast (thanks, Andrea James!)

Photo: The transit of Venus from Denver, Colorado, USA, 2012 © by Jerry Knaus Read the rest