NASA / L. Esposito (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Hubble views Venus
Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet-light image of the planet Venus, taken on January 24, 1995, when Venus was at a distance of 70.6 million miles (113.6 million kilometers) from Earth. Venus is covered with clouds made of sulfuric acid, rather than the water-vapor clouds found on Earth. At ultraviolet wavelengths cloud patterns become distinctive. In particular, a horizontal "Y"-shaped cloud feature is visible near the equator. Similar features were seen from Mariner 10, Pioneer Venus, and Galileo spacecraft, and are currently being observed by Venus Express. The polar regions are bright, possibly showing a haze of small particles overlying the main clouds. The dark regions show the location of enhanced sulfur dioxide near the cloud tops. From previous missions, astronomers know that such features travel east to west along with the Venus' prevailing winds, to make a complete circuit around the planet in four days. The image was taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera-2, in PC mode. False color has been used enhance cloud features.