Japan to Scan Venus, Find King Ghidora

The Japanese space agency, JAXA, is sending an orbiter to Venus in a few years to scan the surface of our nearest planetary neighbor. The PLANET C orbiter (it even sounds like a secret weapon straight out of a Godzilla movie) will use million-pixel cameras to peer through the dense cloudcover and see what lies on Venus' surface. Of course, kaiju fans know what they're likely to find with their super-advanced UV and infrared digital cameras - a giant, three-headed, lightning spewing dragon named King Ghidora.

In the Godzilla mythos, King Ghidora was an alien creature that came to Earth from Venus, where it had wiped out all civilization. This was only the latest of many civilizations destroyed by the space dragon, who would go on to become Godzilla's arch-nemesis and Annalee's avatar. But even if the PLANET C orbiter fails to find any kaiju, it will still be a landmark mission that will teach us a great deal about Venus' weather and surface.

By using several cameras and measuring the temperature in the atmosphere, the orbiter will be able to differentiate clouds from surface features, resulting in accurate photos of the planet below. If you speak Japanese and happen to have a planetary probe gathering dust in your garage, you can even apply to send a microprobe piggy-backed onto the PLANET C mission. Image by: JAXA.

Developing a high-performance detector for seeing through the real surface of Venus. [JAXA]