venus express delivers

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The ESA's Venus Express spacecraft has returned its first images - delivering the first views ever of the Venusian south pole. Venus has a massively dense carbon dioxide atmosphere and these new photos, very low resolution compared to what we'll soone get from Venus Express, show some beautiful spiraling clouds in that dense atmosphere. Venus' cloud structures are shortlived but we learned from the Pioneer Venus Oribter (orbited 1980-1992) that largescale patterns persist even as the structures at the smaller scale evolves and changes at a rapid pace. I can't wait for the high resolution imaging that we'll get from the ESA craft when it settles into a closer orbit.

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Venus has always been my favorite non-Earth planet because it's so close to Earth and so like it. I remember in high school reading a book in the library about how we could send huge pods of algae to Venus to mix with the CO2 and create a breathable atmosphere. What a concept! Anyway, I know how keen you are on Mars so thanks for posting this, too. :)

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