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NASA delivers high-def view of Venus transit

posted 6 Jun 2012, 10:46 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 6 Jun 2012, 16:11 ]

Instruments aboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) have captured stunning images of the June 5 and 6 transit of Venus across the Sun. The images give a fine detail view of an event that will not happen again until 2117.
IN SPACE (JUNE 5, 2012) (NASA) - 
The images were produced by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) during a six hour period over June 5 and 6. They were taken through different filters, designed to collect images in many wavelengths to show different atmospheric details on the Sun and provide clues about Venus's atmosphere.
Recording the transit in so many diferent ways also helped NASA scientists calibrate the SDO's instruments for its ongoing observations of the Sun. With the points of ingress and egress (arrival and departure) known to the finest detail, the SDO can use the information to make sure its images are oriented to true solar north. Orienting instruments is a constant adjustment challenge for telescopes in space, since their original position can be shifted during launch. Various calibrations throughout the two years SDO has been in space have left the scientists confident that the instruments are highly accurate, but making sure that Venus appears in the SDO images exactly where scientists know it should be will help make sure SDO's orientation is accurate to within a tenth of a pixel.

Launched by NASA on February 11, 2010, the SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun. It's equipped with a group of four, sophisticated telescopes which have allowed the observation and transmission of highly detailed images of the Sun. The observatory's mission in space is scheduled to last five years.

The last transit of Venus was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117.