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The astro-comb will try to 'rediscover' Venus by measuring its gravitational effects on th...

Astronomers looking for exoplanets are using a fine-toothed comb – a fine-toothed astro-comb, to be precise. And just to make sure it works, the first planet they’ll be looking for is Venus. Developed by astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the astro-comb uses a new spectroscopic device installed in the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands that will detect the beclouded planet by its gravitational effect on the Sun as a test of a potentially valuable tool in the hunt for Earth-like planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More

Artist's impression of Venus Express skimming the Venusian atmosphere (Image: ESA–C. Carre...

Facing the alternative of a fiery death, the ESA’s Venus Express orbiter has completed a daring maneuver that extended the life of the unmanned explorer by several months. Under command from Earth, the spacecraft spent a month skimming the outer edge of the Venusian atmosphere to alter its velocity and send it into a new orbit that will keep it operating until perhaps the end of the year.  Read More

An artist's impression of Venus Express (Image: ESA)

After eight years of study of the second planet in our Solar System, ESA’s Venus Express orbiter is winding up its science program in anticipation of a plunge into the Venusian atmosphere sometime in the next two months.  Read More

The departing Space Shuttle Atlantis captured this image of the Hubble Space Telescope dur...

From Earth's perspective, on June 5 and 6, Venus will pass across the face of the Sun. By observing the tiny fraction of sunlight that passes through Venus's atmosphere using the Hubble Space Telescope, it is hoped that the planet's atmospheric makeup can be determined. Though we already know the nature of Venus's atmosphere, it is hoped the event will help astronomers hone techniques, already in use, that may one day help to identify Earth-like planets in far-away solar systems. The catch? Hubble cannot observe the Sun directly. Instead it will look at the Moon to observe reflected light.  Read More

Visualization of the Venus Express in orbit above Venus (Image: ESA)

The rotation of the planet Venus is slowing down, according to recent data gathered by the European Space Agency's Venus Express satellite. Peering through the planet's dense atmosphere with infrared imaging, the orbiter saw surface features up to 20 km (12.4 miles) from their expected location. The discrepancy could be explained if the Venusian day has lengthened by six and a half minutes since the planet's speed of rotation was established 16 years ago.  Read More

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