Emily Lakdawalla • Aug 25, 2008
What's up in the solar system for the week of August 25
Well, we had a lovely family vacation at the beach and I managed to keep from doing any work. The same can't be said for my computer: I gave it plenty of work to do, downloading the complete set of Venus Express camera data, which was just last week released to ESA's Planetary Science Archive. It took four days, but it's done! If you don't share my love of raw data, skip the next paragraph...
I have posted a page that serves as an overview of a third of the Venus Express VMC data. These are the images taken through an ultraviolet filter, which nicely showcase Venus' clouds. (Actually, technically, it's taken through the ultraviolet objective -- VMC has four separate objectives, each of which is allotted a corner of a single CCD; the objectives are fitted with four different filters, one in the ultraviolet, one in visible wavelengths, and two in near-infrared wavelengths.) At present this is just a browse page, with thumbnails only (though I do provide the links from which you can FTP individual PDS formatted files, for those of you who know what that means). It will be a few days before I'll be able to convert all the data to a more readily useable format.
Big news to look forward to next week is the encounter of Rosetta to asteroid 2867 Steins, now only 11 days away. The first images resolving the asteroid are expected to be shown on Saturday, September 6, at a press event at the European Space Operations Centre at 12:40 CEST (10:40 UTC); hopefully they'll be released on the Internet concurrently with that. There are already images on Earth showing that Rosetta is tracking Steins just fine. Check the science timeline to see what's happening every day, and watch Daniel Muller's website for a realtime countdown of events.
I lack time to explore last week's orbiter releases, so I'll just point you over to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE and Mars Odyssey THEMIS new image websites.MESSENGER is just 41 days and 41 million kilometers from their second Mercury flyby. New Horizons is 10.4 AU from Earth and 20.8 AU from Pluto. I don't have any news on the activities of Chang'e 1, Kaguya, Voyager 1 and 2, Deep Impact, Stardust, or Dawn. Genesis is in hibernation, and Ulysses appears to still be alive; you can hear an update on that in this week's Planetary Radio.
You Can Be a Planetary Defender!
Support the team of astronomers defending Earth with a gift today.Defend Earth