Planet Venus, life discovered?

This 14 September 2020 video from Columbia University in the USA says about itself:

Did We Just Detect Life on Venus?

The announcement of the detection of a possible biomarker in the atmosphere of Venus has shook up the field of astrobiology and grabbed headlines across the world. Today, we explore why Venus could plausibly host life, how this detection was made, and whether it really means that we’ve finally found extraterrestrial life. Written and presented by Prof Kipping, featuring guest Dr Caleb Scharf.

From National Geographic today:


An ‘extraordinary’ find in the clouds of Venus could point to the presence of life

Scientists say they’ve detected a gas called phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus—a gas thought to be impossible to make on planets like Earth or Venus without the presence of life. If this finding is confirmed, one of two possibilities could exist on the planet long considered Earth’s twin: an exotic chemistry we don’t understand; or life.

LIFE ON VENUS? Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet. Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted in the thick Venutian clouds the chemical signature of phosphine, a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy. Several outside experts — and the study authors themselves — agreed this is tantalizing but said it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. [AP]

Planet Mercury robbed by planet Venus?

This 16 January 2020 video says about itself:

Mercury’s outer layers may have been stripped off by a young Venus

Mercury may have been robbed by Venus in the early days of the solar system. A series of close passes between the two planets when they were young could have stripped away Mercury’s outer layers, leaving behind a world that is mostly dense core.

Read more here.

Planet Venus new research

This video says about itself:

17 January 2017

A Japanese spacecraft has spotted a massive gravity wave in Venus’ atmosphere.

Venus is covered in a thick atmosphere, with clouds of sulphuric acid moving westwards faster than the planet itself rotates.

But among this fast-moving atmosphere scientists have discovered a mysterious ‘sideways smile’ on its surface stretching 6,200 miles (10,000 km) across.

The stationary patch could be a giant wave caused by the gravity from mountains below, the first of its kind to be observed on the planet, according to a new study published on January 16th.

Researchers from the Rikkyo University in Tokyo studied the bow-shaped patch, after it was spotted in December 2015.

‘The most surprising feature of the bow is that it stayed at almost same geographical position despite the background atmospheric super-rotation, the uniform westward wind of which the maximum speed is 100 metres/second at the cloud-top altitudes,’ researchers say.

But exactly why the bow stayed still when the rest of Venus’ atmosphere moves so quickly continues to puzzle scientists.

From Science News:

Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

10,000-kilometer-long stationary feature may have been the biggest of its kind in solar system

By Ashley Yeager

6:11pm, January 17, 2017

With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere whipped along at a brisk 100 meters per second.

The C-shaped structure, which lasted at least four Earth days, could be a gravity wave, a large disturbance in the flow of a fluid or air, scientists say. It may have formed on Venus when winds in the planet’s lower atmosphere slammed into a mountain range and were pushed into the upper atmosphere, where it got stuck, a team of Japanese researchers report January 16 in Nature Geoscience.

Captured in images taken by JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft in December 2015, the structure could be the largest stationary gravity wave ever observed in the solar system. If it did shift from the lower to upper atmosphere, there may be more going on near the surface of the planet than scientists previously thought.

‘Venus was once habitable’

Venus from space. Weinbaum’s Venus has a 500-m...

Venus from space. Weinbaum’s Venus has a 500-mile-wide habitable zone on the sunward side of the terminator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This video says about itself:

10 August 2016

Scientists have been proposing for years now that Venus might not have always been the hottest planet in the Solar System. Researchers have pointed out that once Venus was a habitable planet.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Venus may once have been habitable, Nasa says

Being too close to the sun caused its oceans to evaporate, leading to a build-up of carbon dioxide that produced runaway global warming and today’s temperatures of more than 460C.

From the American Geophysical Union blog:

11 August 2016

Climate modeling suggests Venus may have been habitable

By NASA GISS staff

Observations suggest Venus may have had water oceans in its distant past. A land-ocean pattern like that above was used in a climate model to show how storm clouds could have shielded ancient Venus from strong sunlight and made the planet habitable.

Venus may have had a shallow liquid-water ocean and habitable surface temperatures for up to 2 billion years of its early history, according to computer modeling of the planet’s ancient climate by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The findings, published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, were obtained with a model similar to the type used to predict future climate change on Earth.

“Many of the same tools we use to model climate change on Earth can be adapted to study climates on other planets, both past and present,” said Michael Way, a researcher at GISS and the paper’s lead author. “These results show ancient Venus may have been a very different place than it is today.”

Venus today is a hellish world. It has a crushing carbon dioxide atmosphere 90 times as thick as Earth’s. There is almost no water vapor. Temperatures reach 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius) at its surface.

Scientists long have theorized that Venus formed out of ingredients similar to Earth’s, but followed a different evolutionary path. Measurements by NASA’s Pioneer mission to Venus in the 1980s first suggested Venus originally may have had an ocean. However, Venus is closer to the sun than Earth and receives far more sunlight. As a result, the planet’s early ocean evaporated, water-vapor molecules were broken apart by ultraviolet radiation, and hydrogen escaped to space. With no water left on the surface, carbon dioxide built up in the atmosphere, leading to a so-called runaway greenhouse effect that created present conditions.

Previous studies have shown that how fast a planet spins on its axis affects whether it has a habitable climate. A day on Venus is 117 Earth days. Until recently, it was assumed that a thick atmosphere like that of modern Venus was required for the planet to have today’s slow rotation rate. However, newer research has shown that a thin atmosphere like that of modern Earth could have produced the same result. That means an ancient Venus with an Earth-like atmosphere could have had the same rotation rate it has today.

Another factor that impacts a planet’s climate is topography. The GISS team postulated ancient Venus had more dry land overall than Earth, especially in the tropics. That limits the amount of water evaporated from the oceans and, as a result, the greenhouse effect by water vapor. This type of surface appears ideal for making a planet habitable; there seems to have been enough water to support abundant life, with sufficient land to reduce the planet’s sensitivity to changes from incoming sunlight.

Way and his GISS colleagues simulated conditions of a hypothetical early Venus with an atmosphere similar to Earth’s, a day as long as Venus’ current day, and a shallow ocean consistent with early data from the Pioneer spacecraft. The researchers added information about Venus’ topography from radar measurements taken by NASA’s Magellan mission in the 1990s, and filled the lowlands with water, leaving the highlands exposed as Venusian continents. The study also factored in an ancient sun that was up to 30 percent dimmer. Even so, ancient Venus still received about 40 percent more sunlight than Earth does today.

“In the GISS model’s simulation, Venus’ slow spin exposes its dayside to the sun for almost two months at a time,” co-author and fellow GISS scientist Anthony Del Genio said. “This warms the surface and produces rain that creates a thick layer of clouds, which acts like an umbrella to shield the surface from much of the solar heating. The result is mean climate temperatures that are actually a few degrees cooler than Earth’s today.”

The research was done as part of NASA’s Planetary Science Astrobiology program through the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) program, which seeks to accelerate the search for life on planets orbiting other stars, or exoplanets, by combining insights from the fields of astrophysics, planetary science, heliophysics, and Earth science. The findings have direct implications for future NASA missions, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and James Webb Space Telescope, which will try to detect possible habitable planets and characterize their atmospheres.

Japanese spacecraft circles Venus at last

This video says about itself:

Japan’s Akatsuki Probe Finally Reaches Venus

7 December 2015

After spending the last five years essentially lost in space, the Japanese probe Akatsuki fired up its engines this last weekend in hopes of finally entering the orbit of Venus.

There is often bad news about science in Japan. The present right-wing government is banning social sciences. And there is pseudo-scientific Japanese whaling.

Now, some good news for a change.

From Nature journal:

Japan’s Venus orbiter makes comeback

Five years after a failed insertion into the planet’s orbit, Akatsuki finally reaches its target.

Alexandra Witze

07 December 2015

Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has entered orbit around Venus, five years after its first attempt failed. On 7 December, at 8:51 a.m. Japan time, Akatsuki ignited four small thruster engines for roughly 20 minutes. The tiny push was enough to nudge the probe into the pull of Venus’s gravity.

As Nature went to press, exactly what that orbit looks like remained unclear. But mission scientists are confident that the spacecraft has at least partly redeemed itself, after a 2010 attempt to reach Venus left Akatsuki spiralling around the Sun.

“It’s in orbit!” said Sanjay Limaye, a planetary researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a participating scientist on the mission. “Everyone is very happy.”

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to announce the exact details of the orbit at 6 p.m. Japan time (9 a.m. London time) on 9 December. Even the best-case scenario would see Akatsuki travel a much more stretched-out orbit around Venus than originally planned. The spacecraft could range about 500,000 kilometres from the planet at its farthest point, taking perhaps 14 or 15 days to make each orbit. Eventually, mission controllers plan to fire the thrusters again to shrink the orbit further — to about 330,000 kilometres at its farthest point. That would see it completing a circuit around Venus about every 8 days.

“It’s been quite a long period of waiting,” says Masato Nakamura, JAXA project manager at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara.

Akatsuki was launched in May 2010 on a mission to study Venus’s ever-changing atmosphere, which rotates at up to 100 metres per second — much faster than the planetary surface below it. The spacecraft carries five cameras, ranging from infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths, to study different atmospheric features, including the lightning that is thought to flash through Venus’s acidic clouds.

All seemed well until 7 December 2010, when the spacecraft fired its main engine to enter Venus’s orbit. Unknown to mission controllers, salt had built up on a valve between a helium tank and a fuel tank, and the blockage caused a ceramic nozzle in the propulsion system to break. Akatsuki went sailing towards the Sun, rather than into orbit around Venus.

JAXA engineers spent years studying whether they could recover the mission (M. Nakamura et al. Acta Astronaut. 93, 384–389; 2014). With the main engine dead, the oxidizer fuel was also useless, so mission controllers dumped 65 kilograms of fuel into space in October 2011. This made the spacecraft lighter and easier to manoeuvre, which enabled it to reach orbit with less thrusting.

The crucial engine burn involved four of the spacecraft’s eight thrusters. These smaller engines are normally used to make minor adjustments to the probe’s orientation, rather than major changes to its trajectory. Because the thrusters are lower power than the main engine, they needed to burn for longer than usual.

Twilight zone

Despite the rescue’s apparent success, the spacecraft’s unexpected detour might still cause problems. Because it has spent more time closer to the Sun than originally designed, Akatsuki is warmer than expected, which may have harmed some of its equipment; this could limit operations at Venus.

During its five years in deep-space wilderness, Akatsuki conducted a little science, such as transmitting radio signals to Earth through the solar corona to measure how the Sun’s turbulence scatters radio waves (T. Imamura et al. Astrophys. J. 788, 117; 2014). “The past five years have been a tough period for us,” says team member Takeshi Imamura.

Akatsuki is scientists’ only chance at seeing the planet up close for the foreseeable future. The European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft stopped working a year ago, after eight years of circling the planet. “The new observations from Akatsuki will both extend and complement the data we have from Venus Express, so the scientific result of the two together will be more than the sum of the two individual missions,” says Håkan Svedhem, project scientist for Venus Express. NASA has put two Venus probes on its shortlist of five candidates for the next Discovery-class mission, which would launch no earlier than 2020.

JAXA has a history of nail-biting second chances. Its Hayabusa spacecraft survived a number of near-fatal incidents on the way to and from the asteroid Itokawa. But in 2003, after an extended effort to make the mission work, JAXA lost its Mars-bound Nozomi spacecraft, first to a problem with a fuel valve, and then to a solar flare that fried its electronics.

Akatsuki’s move is only the second such deep-space recovery. In 2000, NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft made it into orbit around the asteroid Eros after a first missed attempt in 1998.

After the first try ended in failure five years ago, Japan’s first Venus Climate Orbiter, Akatsuki, successfully entered orbit above the planet Venus on Monday, Dec. 7. Japan is only the fourth entity, behind Russia, the United States and the European Space Agency (ESA), to place a spacecraft around Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor: here.

Japanese scientists rescue lost Venus space probe with daring maneuvers: here.

Venus-like planet discovered

This video from the USA says about itself:

Rocky Earth-sized exoplanet found orbiting nearby star

11 November 2015

There’s a new exoplanet on the galactic map and scientists are particularly excited about it. That’s because it will be their first opportunity to study the atmosphere of a rocky Earth-sized planet outside our Solar System.

Read more here.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

New planet discovered: Venus-like ‘exoplanet’ GJ 1132b found in solar system close to our own

The rocky planet is slightly larger than the Earth and, like Venus, its surface is too hot to support liquid

Steve Connor, Science Editor

A Venus-like planet has been discovered in a solar system relatively close to our own in what some astronomers are describing as arguable the most important “exoplanet” found orbiting a star other than the Sun.

The rocky planet, called GJ 1132b, is slightly larger than the Earth and, like Venus, its surface is too hot to support liquid water – but scientists believe the planet will be invaluable in the search for extraterrestrial life.

At 39 light years away, GJ 1132b is the nearest rocky exoplanet yet discovered. Its relative proximity to Earth and the fact that it orbits its star once every 1.6 days means that astronomers now have an important test-bed to study the atmospheres of other far-away planets with telescopes that could detect the first chemical signatures of life beyond the Solar System – such as atmospheric methane.

Planet GJ 1132b orbits so close to its own star that its temperatures reach a scorching 232C, which although too hot for life – at least as we know it – are still cool enough for the planet to possess an atmosphere, raising hopes that scientists will be able to analyse its chemical composition from Earth to study its winds and even the colours of its sunsets.

“Our ultimate goal is to find a twin Earth, but along the way we’ve found a twin Venus. We suspect it will have a Venus-like atmosphere too, and if it does we can’t wait to get a whiff,” said David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study published in the journal Nature.

Astronomers discovered the planet by monitoring and measuring the small fluctuations of light from the star Gliese 1132 as the planet passed in front of it every 1.6 days. The scientists calculated that the planet is orbiting at a distance of 1.4 million miles from the star, compared to the 36 million miles between the Earth and the Sun.

“If we find this pretty hot planet has managed to hang onto its atmosphere over the billions of years it’s been around, that bodes well for the long-term goal of studying cooler planets that could have life,” said Zachory Berta-Thompson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We finally have a target to point our telescopes at and dig much deeper into the workings of a rocky exoplanet and what makes it tick…. This planet is cool enough that it can retain an atmosphere. So we think this planet probably still has something of a substantial atmosphere in its current state,” Dr Berta-Thompson said.

GJ 1132b is about 16 per cent larger than the Earth and although its solar orbit is much closer than that of our own planet, its sun is a “red dwarf” star far smaller than the Sun. The planet is probably in a locked orbit, meaning that one side of its surface permanently faces its star while the other always points out to space, much like the Moon’s orbit around Earth.

“The temperature of the planet is about as hot as your oven will go, so it’s like burnt-cookie hot. It’s too hot to be habitable. There’s no way there’s liquid water on the surface, but it’s cooler than the other rocky planets that we know of,” Dr Berta-Thompson said.

“We think it’s the first opportunity we have to point our telescopes at a rocky exoplanet and get that kind of detail, to be able to measure the colour of its sunset, or the speed of its winds, and really learn how rocky planets work out there in the Universe,” he said.

What a nursery of baby planets looks like.

Volcanoes on planet Venus discovery

Volcanoes on Venus. This perspective view of the geology of Venus superposed on topography shows a broad topographic rise (Atla Regio) in the center (red, with radiating purple spokes) and surrounding volcanic plains (green and blue)

From Brown University in the USA:

Study suggests active volcanism on Venus

16 hours ago by Kevin Stacey

An international team of scientists has found some of the best evidence yet that Venus, Earth’s nearest neighbor, is volcanically active.

In combing through data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, the scientists found transient spikes in temperature at several spots on the planet’s surface. The hotspots, which were found to flash and fade over the course of just a few days, appear to be generated by active flows of lava on the surface.

“We were able to show strong evidence that Venus is volcanically, and thus internally, active today,” said James W. Head, a geologist at Brown University and co-author of a paper describing the new research. “This is a major finding that helps us understand the evolution of planets like our own.”

The research is published online in Geophysical Research Letters.

The hotspots turned up in thermal imaging taken by the Venus Express spacecraft’s Venus Monitoring Camera. The data showed spikes in temperature of several hundred degrees Fahrenheit in spots ranging in size from 1 square kilometer to over 200 kilometers.

The spots were clustered in a large rift zone called Ganiki Chasma. Rift zones are formed by stretching of the crust by internal forces and hot magma that rises toward the surface. Head and Russian colleague Mikhail Ivanov had previously mapped the region as part of a global geologic map of Venus generated from the Soviet Venera missions in the 1980s and U.S. Magellan mission in the 1990s. The mapping work had shown that Ganiki Chasma was quite young, geologically speaking, but just how young wasn’t clear until now.

“We knew that Ganiki Chasma was the result of volcanism that had occurred fairly recently in geological terms, but we didn’t know if it formed yesterday or was a billion years old,” Head said. “The active anomalies detected by Venus Express fall exactly where we had mapped these relatively young deposits and suggest ongoing activity.”

The latest finding is consistent with other data from Venus Express that have hinted at very recent volcanic activity. In 2010, infrared imaging from several volcanoes seemed to indicate lava flows from thousands to a few million years old. A few years later, scientists reported transient spikes in sulfur dioxide in Venus’ upper atmosphere, another potential signal of active volcanism.

The observation of hotspots by Venus Express, combined with the geologic mapping from Venera and Magellan, make a strong case for a volcanically active Venus, Head says.

“This discovery fits nicely with the emerging picture of very recent activity in Venus’ geologic history,” he said. “These remarkable findings were the result of collaborations spanning many years and many political borders. They underscore the importance of international collaboration in exploring our solar system and understanding how it evolves.”

Explore further: Learn about Venus, the hothouse planet near Earth

More information: “Active Volcanism on Venus in the Ganiki Chasma Rift Zone,” E. V. Shalygin, Geophysical Research Letters, 2015.

Why astronauts did not reach Venus, Mars

This video is about planet Venus.

This music video from Britain is the band The Rezillos with their song Destination Venus.

From Smart News blog in the USA:

August 26, 2013 10:07 am

The Lame Reason NASA Gave Up on Sending Astronauts to Venus in 1973

In the mid-1960s America’s space program was swiftly racing towards the Moon, a exotic land that would be conquered before the decade was out. But in the years leading up to the landing, NASA was already looking toward the future, asking: how could they keep the amazing team that built the Apollo program in place, and where could humans go next, given the technologies on hand?

Writing for Ars Technica, Amy Shira Teitel lays out in detail the plans devised to send astronauts to Venus, to Mars, or to both planets on one epic voyage, using only the equipment that put people on the Moon.

Following a launch during the November 1973 window, the crew would reach Venus sometime around March 3, 1974, and the planet would become their primary science target. Using the telescope’s broad spectrum to look beyond Venus’ thick clouds, the crew would gather data on Venus’ surface, the chemical composition of the lower atmospheric levels, its gravitational field, and the properties of its various cloud layers. They might even release robotic probes, small vehicles that would send data back to the spacecraft in real time about the atmosphere as they completed their one-way missions to the surface.

Swinging around Venus would give the crew enough momentum to return to Earth. Planetary geometry following that November 1973 launch window meant the return trip would take a full 273 days.

The whole venture, says Teitel, was predicated on the idea that, after the moon landing, Americans would experience a great surge of enthusiasm for the exploration of the cosmos. That, however, never happened. Given that, even at the time, the majority of Americans weren’t too keen on sending people to the Moon, it was probably never a very realistic dream in the first place.

As Alexis Madrigal wrote at the Atlantic last year, the rosy ideal of the Moon landing as this great coming-together moment of human experience is one heavily tinted by time:

Back in the Apollo days, people loved the space program! Except, as this Space Policy paper pointed out, they didn’t. A majority of Americans opposed the government funding human trips to the moon both before (July 1967) and after (April 1970) Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind. It was only in the months surrounding Apollo 11 that support for funding the program ever reached above 50 percent.

And federal budget makers weren’t any more excited about sending men to Venus or Mars. Funding for the Apollo program petered out by 1973, as NASA’s overall budget shrunk from a peak of $5.9 billion in 1966 to a low of $3.2 billion in 1974. As a percentage of federal spending, NASA’s budget has continued to diminish: in 1966, it made up 4.4 percent of all federal spending. It’s now around 0.5 percent.

The government may not have been so keen on space spending, but “it wasn’t only a lack of funding that doomed the Venus and Mars flyby missions,” according to Teitel. The Venus and Mars proposals “were never intended as a recommendation,” she says. Still, they could have been spectacular. If those plans had been executed, people would have been orbiting our two nearest planetary neighbors just a few years after we set foot on the Moon.

This poetry video from the USA is called Gil Scott-Heron: Whitey on the moon.

Venus transit in Bahrain

This video is called The 2012 Transit of Planet Venus.

In Bahrain, people smell lethal teargas. They see police killing people for expressing their right to free speech. They see a prince, a princess, and others torturing people for not conforming to the dictatorship.

Sometimes, people can see better things. Like birds.

Or a rare astronomical phenomenon.

From Gulf Daily News:

Venus luck for Bahrain gazers

By Bushra Al Sayegh , Posted on » Tuesday, June 05, 2012

BAHRAIN will be among a few lucky countries to witness a rare astronomical phenomenon tomorrow which happens once a century.

Venus will pass between the Earth and the Sun and will be visible in Bahrain’s sky as a small black dot between 5.45am and 7.43am.

The weather will be clear tomorrow morning with slight chances of dust because the wind speed will be lesser than previous days, confirmed the Bahrain Meteorological Directorate.

However, a dusty weather could actually be a good thing as viewers can easily witness the unique cosmic event without wearing solar glasses, said Bahrain Astronomical Society vice-president and Bahrain University applied physics professor Dr Waheeb Alnaser.

“The dust can work as a filter, which means gazers can easily observe the event without wearing the solar glasses,” said Dr Alnaser.

“Nevertheless, people need not fear any risks of having any eye damage; it is a myth that such scientific occurrences can produce dangerous rays.

“The only thing that can cause damage is looking at the Sun directly without eye protection.

“Anyone can observe this phenomenon if they look east in an open space using proper glasses.

“We have distributed around 5,000 glasses and 2,000 will be given out as part of the celestial treat for gazers,” he added.

However, the transit of Venus happened twice this century, which was a freak occurrence as it was visible in Bahrain on June 8, 2004, when it lasted more than six hours.

An observing team has been formed by the university in collaboration with the society and they will be accompanied by a Bahrain TV crew as they set base at the university’s Sakhir campus.

“The transit of the Sun by Venus is a rare spectacle that will not happen anytime soon again,” said Dr Alnaser.

“The next time Bahrain will witness such a phenomenon will be December 11, 2117.

“Having only eight years difference since the last time we had this event is a miracle, such things do not happen frequently; they happen less than once per century.”

Those interested to get solar glasses should visit the information desk at the Information Affairs Authority building in Isa Town.

Meanwhile, the Northern Governorate yesterday organised a lecture on the phenomenon by Bahraini researcher and astronomer Ali Majeed Al Hajari.

Venus transit photos from the USA: here.

This video is called Sundown in Bahrain.

Bahraini Human Rights Defender’s Letter Smuggled Out of Prison: here.

Bahrain has a long history of repressing free speech, which intensified after the pro–democracy protests in February 2011. Due to the 1976 Penal Code provisions, the Bahraini government is easily able to repress dissent and criticism. In March, the Press and Publications Directorate banned the following books from the Bahrain International Book Fair. Because of our commitment to freedom of expression, Sampsonia Way recommends these books to all those who speak Arabic: here.

Scholars Group Asks Bahrain‘s King to Release Imprisoned Medics: here.

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See rare planet Venus transit

This video is called ScienceCasts: The 2012 Transit of Venus.

By Andrew Fazekas for National Geographic News:

Transit of Venus 2012—Sun Show Will Be Last for a Century

How to see rare planetary lineup that may unlock puzzles of alien worlds.

Published June 4, 2012

Early this week sky-watchers around the world will be able to witness a transit of Venus—a celestial event that won’t be seen again for more than a century.

Visible either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on where you live, the transit will offer astronomers a chance to refine our understanding of Venus as well as to tweak models for searching for planets around other stars.

Transits happen when a planet crosses between Earth and the sun. Only Mercury and Venus, which are closer to the sun than our planet, can undergo this unusual alignment.

With its relatively tight orbit, Mercury circles the sun fast enough that we see the innermost planet transit every 13 to 14 years. But transits of Venus are exceedingly rare, due to that world’s tilted orbit: After the 2012 Venus transit, we won’t see another until 2117.

During the upcoming transit, Venus will look like a black dot gliding across the face of the sun over the course of about six hours.

“Venus’s diameter will appear only about a 30th the diameter of the sun, so it will be … like a pea in front of a watermelon,” said Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Massachusetts. (Read a Q&A with Pasachoff about Venus transits.)

Venus transit 2012: Take care while stargazing to see Venus’ transit of the sun: here.

Three hundred years of adventures and misadventures to see the Transit of Venus helped us measure the heavens: here.