Instruments >> SPICAV

Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus

SPICAV is an imaging spectrometer for ultraviolet and infrared radiation. SPICAV is derived from the SPICAM instrument flown on Mars Express, which was equipped with two channels, one for ultraviolet wavelengths and one for infrared. SPICAV retains these channels, SPICAV-UV (SUV) for ultraviolet and SPICAV-IR for infrared and adds an additional channel (SOIR, Solar Occultation at Infrared), to observe the Sun through Venus's atmosphere at longer infrared wavelengths (2.3 µm - 4.2 µm).

SPICAV Channels

Ultraviolet (SUV)

Infrared (SIR)


0.11 - 0.31

0.7 - 1.7

2.3 - 4.2


0.5 - 1nm

0.2 - 0.5cm -1



~15 000

55 × 8.7

0.2 / pixel

0.3 - 3

Operational Modes

The operational modes of SPICAV are Test mode (ground use only), Star mode, Sun mode, Limb mode and Nadir mode. The operational modes are derived from the scientific objectives and the related spacecraft attitudes.

SPICAV Operating Modes

Used during spacecraft nominal nadir observation mode. SUV and SIR observing.

Requires dedicated spacecraft attitude. SUV observing.

Requires dedicated spacecraft attitude. SUV and SIR observing.

Requires dedicated spacecraft attitude. SUV, SIR and SOIR observing.

In Nadir mode, the instrument points directly at the planet and analyses solar radiation that has travelled through the atmosphere after being reflected from the planet surface. In Star or Sun mode, the instrument points tangentially through the atmosphere towards a star, or the Sun, which is observed through the atmosphere as it rises or sets. The instrument then analyses the light once components of it have been absorbed by the atmosphere. In limb pointing mode, the instrument points across the atmosphere, as during Star mode, but without a target star, and the instrument can analyse the atmospheric glow.


More info

Other Venus Express Instruments

  • ASPERA (Analyser of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms)
  • MAG (Venus Express Magnetometer)
  • PFS (Planetary Fourier Spectrometer)
  • VeRa (Venus Radio Science Experiment)
  • VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer)
  • VMC (Venus Monitoring Camera)


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