On Oct. 24, 2006, the MESSENGER spacecraft came within 2,990 kilometers (1,860 miles) of Venus during its second planetary encounter. Twenty days before closest approach to Venus the MESSENGER Dual Imaging System snapped pictures of the planet from a distance of about 16.5 million kilometers (10.3 million miles). Despite the low resolution of the image on the left, one can see that Venus is shrouded in a thick blanket of clouds that hides its surface. The picture on the right is the same image expanded four times, clearly showing the dense Venusian cloud cover.
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.