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Venus Probe Returns First Images 154

Posted by Zonk
from the check-out-the-umm-clouds dept.
The BBC reports on the first images returned from Venus by the EU probe. From the article: "They show the hothouse planet's south pole from a distance of 206,452km. Mission scientists are already intrigued by a dark 'vortex' feature which can be clearly seen in one image. Venus Express will orbit the planet for about 500 Earth days to study its atmosphere, which is thought to have undergone runaway greenhouse warming." They're offering some high-rez images of the planet at the ESA website.
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Venus Probe Returns First Images

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  • Whoa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xiph (723935) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:32PM (#15133398)
    I don't really have anything intelligent to say. But i hope others who don't either will give me the peace and just say whoa, instead of coming with stupid puns, because these are truly cool pictures. so, don't write before you view. ESA has finally made something which isn't just cool, but looks cool too, and i hope they get the attention they deserve, because their funding needs it badly. anyway, cheers and enjoy the pics, i hope this'll still be the first post
    • I wasn't so taken with the images.
      Infact, I expected much better - they "high-rez" looks very grainy, like a bad jpeg.
      I hope this first capture isn't going to be indicative of the quality.

      Earlier on (when I saw this article) I went looking at the first images from other craft, and one of the more startling comparisons comes from First close-up view of Jupiter from Voyager 1. [nasa.gov]

      Even the Mariner images shown on the linked BBC article appear to have grater clarity and detail.
      • Infact, I expected much better - they "high-rez" looks very grainy, like a bad jpeg.

        It looks like a bad jpeg because that's exactly what it is; the 1024x768 "wallpaper" is only 161kB.

        • Re:Whoa (Score:2, Interesting)

          by LiquidCoooled (634315)
          Thats my point.

          The image I link to is a smaller gif image yet still contains much more clarity and detail than these deformed images.
          They say first impressions count and the person who considered putting up these images instead of clear lower resolution ones needs a talking to.
          • Thats my point.

            Yes, I was actually trying to agree and expand upon your comment (it seems like it's been longer than normal since I've haven't had any mod points, so it's the best I could do). My apologies if it came across as any kind of disagreement.

        • Not very "hi-res" if you ask me..... whats with the pixel issue ???? 161k ...my Razor phone takes better pictures......although i'd have to throw it ...way out there to get some pics.... I know i'm going to get a mod hit with this one but its worth it......
    • "The quibble, the quiddity, the double-entendre, the amphiboly, aye the amphibology, the pun, the punnet, and the pundigrion, all rest upon the fact that some sounds serve for two meanings...

      ...Men, being lazy, have boiled down dozens of varieties, and the labels therefore, into the puny word pun.

      Notice, I call the physical word, not the mental exercise, puny. Puns are called puny by those that can't make them...

      ...Nevertheless, those that can make puns usually do. Tradition forbids applause; the appr

    • I think it's fantastic that the ESA is getting so serious about space exploration. They're really becoming a leader in the space industry. Between China, Japan, the ESA, Russia, and NASA, the space industry is becoming truly international. Cooperation and competition, side-by-side, is a great way to get things done, especially with the private sector getting more directly involved.

      It's definitely an interesting time to be alive...

    • Re:Whoa (Score:2, Informative)

      by ichandarin (713953)
      For everyone who doesn't have anything intelligent to say... here's someone who does: the Planetary society has a good report on the findings at http://www.planetary.org/news/2006/0414_First_Venu s_Express_VIRTIS_Images_Peel.html [planetary.org]
    • Re:Whoa (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Skim123 (3322)
      Whoa. Why isn't my Venus inside Uranus?
  • well duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by ogarza (968535) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:35PM (#15133413)
    Scientists hope to learn how Venus, which is similar to Earth in size, mass and composition, evolved so differently over the last 4.6 billion years.


    Oh i dunno.. maybe the avergae temperature being on avg. 890F, for example?
    • Oh i dunno.. maybe the avergae temperature being on avg. 890F, for example?

      Personally, I think it was a severe lack of Mint Juleps and Long Island Iced Teas.

      That and having all one's wooden stir sticks light on fire.
      • It's a direct result of the Great Pirate Migration that coincides with the beginning of our last ice age. The pirates of Venus were able to build a flying "ship" that they used to raid the next planet out from the sun. The Venutian government at the time was glad to see them go. Parlaimentary Spokesbabe Eep-ork-O'p said "Take your pirate asses off of Venus and don't come back. We don't need you guys after all." She later was quoted as saying "That was a damn silly thing to say" just before she evaporated in
    • Re:well duh (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      Oh i dunno.. maybe the avergae temperature being on avg. 890F, for example?

      Yes but how did it get that way?

      • Re:well duh (Score:2, Funny)

        by MrYotsuya (27522)
        Cue the people who say Global Warming isn't real, citing a crappy Micheal Crichton novel.
      • god... or 40 million kilometers in difference from distance to the sun
        • A day that's one third of an earth year might help.
          • I wonder if the long day and the proximity to the sun means that Venus's oceans took up residence in the atmosphere.

        • Then explain why it is significantly hotter than even the sun-side of mercur even though it gets 3 times less solar energy per m^2?

          • Re:well duh (Score:3, Informative)

            Then explain why it is significantly hotter than even the sun-side of mercur even though it gets 3 times less solar energy per m^2?

            Well, for one thing, Mercury's atmosphere is extremely thin and contains things like sodium and potassium. Venus has a very thick atmosphere which helps keep much of the heat locked in.

            • Re:well duh (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by drinkypoo (153816)
              Yeah, we know that. Here on Earth, we call those kind of atmospheric constituents "greenhouse gases". I'm thinking they don't call them much of anything on Venus, because anyone who might have been alive there is probably gone now :P
          • Then explain why it is significantly hotter than even the sun-side of mercur even though it gets 3 times less solar energy per m^2?

            Venus is hot on the surface because of the intense greenhouse effect there. Something caused all of the oceans on Venus to boil off, leading to the current situation. That "something" was mysterious until we discovered that Venus basically doesn't rotate. That makes a huge difference in the amount of water vapor in the air (which is the dominant factor in the greenhouse effec
          • Perhaps if Mercury was as massive as Venus and could maintain an atmosphere it might be even worse.

            The question with Venus is not why is it hot, but where did that atmosphere come from?
      • Oh i dunno.. maybe the avergae temperature being on avg. 890F, for example?

        Yes but how did it get that way?
        SUVs man, SUVs!
      • Re:well duh (Score:4, Funny)

        by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:21PM (#15133608) Homepage
        It got that way because there was too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Way too much methane. The methane came from ponies. Lots and lots of pink ponies. OMG! PONIES!!!
      • Venutian cows.

        If only they had a way to capture the methane like we do.
        http://www.patentlysilly.com/patent.php?patID=6982 161 [patentlysilly.com]

      • Yes but how did it get that way?

        Well let's see. Women are from Venus. Women are hot. Venus is hot. QED.
        (Oh wait, it should be in the reverse order.)
    • The parent post has been brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.
    • Celsius (Score:3, Informative)

      by Crouty (912387)
      Oh i dunno.. maybe the avergae temperature being on avg. 890F, for example?
      Nah, we're talking Europe here, buddy, so it's 467C. Lest we're talking astrophysics, in which case it would be 740 K.
      • Re:Celsius (Score:2, Funny)

        by ogarza (968535)
        Nah, we're talking Europe here, buddy, so it's 467C. Lest we're talking astrophysics, in which case it would be 740 K.

        oh yeah? 1381 rankine
        • psh... that's so 1860's...
        • Nah, we're talking Europe here, buddy, so it's 467C. Lest we're talking astrophysics, in which case it would be 740 K.

          oh yeah? 1381 rankine


          Or to convert it to laymen's terms...

          The temperature of Venus is unfuckingbelievably hot.

          (Just ask Mercury. I believe he was tasked with taking her temperature.)

  • Sending a probe to Venus ... $xx million dollars

    Getting back hi-res pictures of Venus under massive global warming ... $x million dollars

    Realizing that this is what Earth might look at if we continue ignoring Global Warming ... Priceless.

    For everything else, there's Big Oil PetroldollarCard.
    • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:12PM (#15133570) Homepage
      Not understanding the differences between Earth and Venus... Priceless

      There are some people who take the time to learn about our environment. For everyone else, there's Envirobabble.
      • Venus is considered the sister planet to Earth because of its uncanny similarities. Earth and Venus are closer to each other than any other two planets in the solar system. Earth and Venus are almost the same in size, mass, and composition. Earth and Venus are believed to have iron cores of approximately the same size. Earth and Venus both orbit the sun in nearly circular orbits. Venus is believed to have once had large amounts of water just like the Earth. Now, since you claim to understand the differences
        • please tell us what the difference was which made Venus undergo a runaway greenhouse effect and why such a runaway effect could never happen to our planet.

          Maybe being 26.7 % [wikipedia.org] closer to the sun helps?

          • by craXORjack (726120) on Saturday April 15, 2006 @02:56AM (#15134503)
            Maybe it helped. But then why has Mercury which orbits much, much closer never gotten as hot as Venus? We know this by the number of craters on its surface. Venus had a complete surface meltdown within the last 700-800 million years while Mercury has not. Radiation intensity from a point source diminishes according to the inverse square law so a 27% increase in orbit will only make a 38% decrease in solar intensity. Are you suggesting then that the greenhouse effect can not happen if solar radiation intensity is just slightly less than it is for Venus? Now that Venus is surrounded by greenhouse gases, what would happen if we could move Venus out to Earth's orbit? The heat input would only be 62% as much yet the heat output would not be significantly changed. Radiative cooling behaves in accordance with the absolute temperature to the fourth power. So its mean temp of 737 kelvin would only need to drop to 654 kelvin to maintain a steady state if it were in Earth's orbit. But I am still waiting for SetupWeasel to explain it to me since he dismisses global warming as 'environbabble'.
        • 1 Venusian Day = 1/3 Earth Year
      • Yeah, the probe isn't sent to find any "proof" of what runaway greenhouse gases can do; this is already known. But many details are not known, and this probe will simply try to improve our knowledge in the area, and *may* be able to apply some of this new knowledge to Earth, to either weaken or strengthen the greenhouse effect theories as for Eath.
  • Vortices (Score:4, Funny)

    by Joebert (946227) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:48PM (#15133462) Homepage
    >> Venus Express science team members say they want to know how these vortices remain stable and where they get their energy from.

    If only ET would answer the phone, we could call them & ask which direction the water turns when they flush the toilet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:57PM (#15133502)
    Just a minor correction - but the European Space Agency is not a part of the EU - and countries outside the EU participate as well.
  • by HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:59PM (#15133513)
    This is what happens when Piracy drops to zero. See RIAA? Se what you are trying to do? You are trying to KILL US ALL!
  • by Colonel Sponsz (768423) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:59PM (#15133514)
    But I really wish ESA would adopt a more NASA-like policy for images and other probe data. I hold NASA in much higher esteem than ESA - not because of some sense of patriotism (hey, I live in Europe), but because with them people like me can more often than not actually get to see the results and access the raw data (and be able to use it for basically whatever purpose I see fit as well). ESA OTOH has a tendency to release only a few selected images, with lots of usage restrictions...
    • One thing that NASA is really good at is producing and promoting pretty pictures, as in the Astronomy Picture of the Day"

      Now, some would regard this outreach work as a waste of money, but it ignores the fact that exploration and research requires trained motivated persons, person who have been exposed to the subject since childhood. Persons who have seen exploration and research as an exciting and compelling profession. This means making the subject accesible to average children and thier parents.

      NASA

    • ESA OTOH has a tendency to release only a few selected images, with lots of usage restrictions...

      According to the copyright note that pops up on their site, the might not used to "state tate or imply the endorsement by ESA or any ESA employee of a commercial product, process or service, or used in any other manner that might mislead." Otherwise: "You may use ESA images or videos for educational or informational purposes. The publicly released ESA images may be reproduced without fee." OK, you have to give E
  • by Zygote-IC- (512412) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:03PM (#15133531) Homepage
    It's Venus after all -- and according to the book, that's where women are originally from.

    The runaway global warming was probably caused by all their yaps going nonstop, a stream of hot air about "doing the dishes," "mowing the lawn," and "come look at this cute house I built in 'The Sims.'"

    And, yeah, that dark vortex? That costs $15.99 a month, billed to your credit card under the name "OMFGSONOTPR0N.COM"

    Thankfully my wife doesn't read slashdot or I could so get my ass...

    Oh dear God -- CLOSE, CLOSE, CLOSE!!!
  • Otherwise, I was going to destroy the Earth.

    It's blocking my view of Venus.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:08PM (#15133552) Homepage
    I just hope it doesn't return to Earth and go berzerk. Lee Majors is looking a little long in the tooth to do anything about it these days.
    • Sad i'm only 25 and I know exactly what show you're talking about....But i that was from mars? Maybe one of the Rovers?
      • No, it was definitely Venus. I'm 36, and the OP brought back perfect images of Steve Austin being chased around by a big, sloping-sided space probe. The reason it was nearly invincible on Earth was because it was designed to stand up to Venus' harsh conditions.

        • That's right. And then they hooked it to a chopper and lifted it in the air and blew it up because of the pressure. Like a shark from the deep sea.
    • It's worse than you think. The reason the ESA is only releasing a few selected images is because it found a planet full of people who were so pacified, they were unwilling to do anything about global warming. Eventually they just lay down where they were... forgot to go to work, forgot to breed, forgot to eat...

      Except of course, for the 1/10 of 1% of the population that had the opposite effect... and became politicians!

  • Did they decide to stop uploading the high frequency components of those jpegs or something?
  • I have an idea! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:19PM (#15133598) Journal
    /sarcasm on
    Lets keep burning stuff like oil, and coal, and once that gone lets start chemically freeing carbon from limestone. Im sure at some point. With enough methane added in the mix we too can be like VENUS!
    Yay,.
    I propose we let our cars all idle..even when we are home! Hey..get involved! Its for America! :0
    /sarcasm off
  • The ones that take core samples might be more useful
  • High Res Images (Score:2, Informative)

    by imboboage0 (876812)
    They're offering some high-rez images of the planet at the ESA website.
    Well they were anyway, until they posted a link on the Slashdot front page.
  • That polar vortex is the Venusian greenhouse gas factory. They had a bit of a mad scientist problem, and one mad scientist finally "showed them all!"
    • That polar vortex is the Venusian greenhouse gas factory.

      Sorry to be pedantic, but the proper adjective (despite what you may have heard on the 6 o'clock news) is Venereal. So what you are talking about is the Venereal greenhouse gas factory.

      And don't you dare mod this as funny.

  • Maybe I'm being tedious, but I don't agree with comparing Venus to the Earth. The Earth is a complex system of oceans, atmosphere, plant, and animal life. Venus never had the kind of feedback loops that the Earth has. Venus is an example of how a planet that never developed a complex ecology would develop with an excess of CO2. Don't get me wrong. Venus is as much an example of the Greenhouse effect of CO2 as anything, but the Venusian skys weren't polluted by to many cars.
    • How do you know that their planet never developed a complex ecology? Maybe Venus was once covered by a lush forest, and it got too hot, there was a forest fire, and the whole planet was consumed by a firestorm? We'll likely never know of course, but believing something is the case when there's not yet any significant evidence either way is pretty silly.
  • Ozone hole (Score:3, Funny)

    by HermanAB (661181) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:36PM (#15133818)
    Wow, they found an ozone hole on Venus too? ;)
  • Looks a lot like a party here on earth.
  • I think the pictures are awesome. I've always enjoyed space sciences, and all the neat stuff coming from long-distance probes and satellites is great.

    Kinda puts things in perspective when you see a vortex that appears to be covering half a planet...
  • It cant possibly be that Venus is 23 million miles closer to the sun. It cant be that Venus is 25% closer to the Sun than the Earth. Has to be the carbon dioxide. After all there can be only one cause for any effect.
    • by ScriptedReplay (908196) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:26PM (#15134119)
      It cant possibly be that Venus is 23 million miles closer to the sun. It cant be that Venus is 25% closer to the Sun than the Earth. Has to be the carbon dioxide. After all there can be only one cause for any effect.

      Well, let's see ... according to wikipedia, here's a small list:
      • Mercury surface temperature: 90 K (min) 440 K (avg) 700 K (max)
      • Venus surface temperature: 228 K (min, cloud tops) 737 K (avg) 773 K (max)
      • Earth surface temperature: 185 K (min) 287 K (avg) 331 K (max)
      • to make
      • Mars surface temperature: 133 K(min) 210 K (avg) 293 K (max)


      Now, if distance to the Sun is all there is to explain it, someone messed up really bad with our basic knowledge of the Solar System, for Venus is the hottest inner planet and should obviously be the closest to the Sun. No way it could be about twice further from it than Mercury.

      Also, could you please enlighten us how can it be that the temperature difference between night and day on Venus is so small in spite of the rotation period being about 243 Earth days? wouldn't ~4 Earth-months worth of night be enough to cool that side of the planet? after all, Mercury's day is almost 4 timers shorter than Venus' and the max. temperature is close, but the min temperature on Mercury is low enough for high Tc superconductivity.
    • by SETIGuy (33768) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:45PM (#15134158) Homepage
      It cant possibly be that Venus is 23 million miles closer to the sun. It cant be that Venus is 25% closer to the Sun than the Earth. Has to be the carbon dioxide. After all there can be only one cause for any effect.

      You've got to be a true red Republican to deny the greenhouse effect on Venus.

      If you do the math, since temperature goes as the 1/4 power of the recieved radiation and the recieved radiation goes as the square of the distance, with all else being equal 25% closer gets you about 15% hotter. In other words without a greenhouse effect venus would be about 45C hotter than earth.

      If you put the Earth at the location of Venus, the oceans wouldn't boil. Not immediately at least. What would happen is that the evaporation rate would increase which would put more water vapor in the air. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas that would increase the temperature which would evaporate more water. That's an example of positive feedback. Eventually it would get hot enough for the oceans to boil.

      Without the oceans to absorb CO2 and without the life forms in the ocean which take CO2 and turn it into rocks, the CO2 released in volcanos (not to mention the forests catching on fire) stays in the atmosphere where it adds further to the greenhouse effect.

      The CO2 and all the water vapor combine to form carbonic acid which increases the weathering of carbonate rocks releasing still more CO2. Meanwhile UV radiation (sunlight) in the upper atmosphere dissociates the water vapor into oxygen and hydrogen. Because it is light, the hydrogen escapes into space. The oxygen oxidizes any unoxidized materials on the surface. If any of those materials contain accessable carbon, you've just released more CO2 and increased the greenhouse effect.

      Plate tectonics continues on for a while releasing more CO2 until the point where the water bearing minerals that enable plate tectonics on the Earth have disappeared. Plate tectonics stops. At this point you've got... you guessed it... Venus. Not that you'd be caring. You died long before the oceans started boiling.

      This is what would absolutely happen to the Earth if we were to raise its temperature by 45C. What we don't know is where the dividing line is. Maybe it's 25C. Maybe it's 5C. And so we've decided to raise the temperature by 3C in the next 100 years or so.

      The main difference between the Earth and Venus isn't the temperature. It's where the CO2 is. In Venus, it's in the atmosphere. On Earth, it's in the rocks. Pour some vinegar on some limestone if you don't think it can come out again. The oceans are already becoming acidic enough to cause difficulties for some shell building organisms....

      • There you go again trying to argue logic in a forum* within which it is not regarded as a strong defense. Common problem, often frustratingly hard for the logically minded to come to terms with. Understand that perception is more important than logic and reality is as observed in political debate. Of course in its detatched ignorarance the planet will ignore all that, but then you just have to redifine reality again and the pesky problems once again go away.

        * ie head-in-the-sands, not /.

        Solution: ?

        Escaladin
  • True all images are doctored, but the ESA tends to go overboard with these split views, perspective views, and computer modelled views without ever showing what the original view looked like.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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