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Europe Scientists Release First Photos of Venus 


European scientists have released the first-ever photo images of Venus' south pole taken by their orbiting Venus Express spacecraft.

The European Space Agency released the photos Thursday, two days after the spacecraft safely entered orbit Tuesday. The images were taken from a distance of about 200,000 kilometers and showed pale yellow clouds ribbed with darker spirals and a dark vortex.

By studying Venus scientists hope to learn lessons that might apply to Earth, where carbon dioxide pollution and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere.

Venus is Earth's closest neighbor, and the two planets are roughly the same size with about the same mass, density and gravity. But Venus is shrouded in sulfuric acid clouds and a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere. Its temperatures average at about 450 degrees Celsius.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.
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