The Venus Express Ground Observing Project (VEXGOP) is an opportunity to contribute scientifically useful images and data to compliment the Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft observations of Venus. The project will focus on utilising the capabilities of advanced amateurs to obtain images of the atmosphere of Venus; specifically filtered monochrome images obtained with CCD based cameras in the 350nm to 1000nm (near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared range).
The Venus Express (VEX) spacecraft will observe the planet Venus using seven instruments for at least two Venusian years (1000 days) beginning in May 2006. The instrument package includes the Venus Imaging Camera (VMC), which will image the planet in the near-UV, visible and near-IR range. Although VMC will provide much higher resolution images of the planet than visible from Earth, continuous monitoring of the planet will not be possible.
There may be periods, therefore, when parts of the planet are visible from Earth that are not visible from the spacecraft (due to the spacecraft position in orbit). Additionally it is important to compare Earth-based observations with simultaneous spacecraft observations. In particular this will allow us to extend our understanding of the dynamics of Venus’s atmosphere based on the VEX data to observations made prior to the VEX mission, as well as after completion of VEX operations.
The objectives of VEXGOP is to obtain high quality images of Venus before, after and during VEX operations. Amateur astronomers, using CCD based cameras with filters for specific band passes in the near ultra-violet, visible and near infrared wavelengths (350nm to 1000nm), are encouraged to participate in the gathering of images. Observation campaigns will include:
- Routine images of Venus during each apparition
- Coordinated observations during specific periods of the VEX mission to provide either simultaneous or complimentary ground based images to VEX spacecraft observations
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