Akatsuki's IR2 camera succeeds in visualizing detailed structure of Venusian clouds!
The first light image obtained by the infrared camera IR2 onboard the Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI has arrived.
IR2 is an infrared camera with a sensitivity around the 2-µm wavelength. The sensor must be chilled to below -200 degrees Celsius, which causes it to take longer time to boot up than the other three cameras, but the device succeeded in obtaining the first image of Venus on its orbit.
The image was obtained on December 11, four days after the first light images of the other three cameras. Taking into account the super rotation of Venusian atmosphere, this means we are looking at essentially the same area. The observed wavelength band is around 2 µm in which there are strong absorption bands of carbon dioxide, and the differences of cloud-top altitudes appear as the contrast of the image. It can be seen that cloud-top altitude is lower at a latitude of 50° or higher in both the southern and northern hemispheres. This feature has been known already. On the other hand, the striped pattern at the lower latitudes and the structure extending from south to north are observed for the first time. Future observations and analyses are expected to give us clues to elucidate the dynamics of Venesian cloud layers and atmosphere.
In the gallery, you will find images of Venus taken by AKATSUKI, along with the orbit information at the observation.