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(Astronomy) Venus Probe

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 1:45 pm    Post subject: (Astronomy) Venus Probe Reply with quote

European Space Agency Launches Venus Probe
By MELISSA EDDY, Associated Press Writer
Wed Nov 9, 8:37 PM ET

DARMSTADT, Germany - A European spacecraft left Earth orbit Wednesday on a five-month, 220 million-mile journey to Venus, an exploratory mission that could help spur a new space race.

The European Space Agency said the unmanned Venus Express lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and mission control in Darmstadt activated the probe's instruments and immediately picked up a signal to hearty applause in the observation room.

The Europeans then received another signal — a congratulatory note from the Pasadena, Calif.,-based Planetary Society, which had monitored the launch from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

The $260 million spacecraft will take 163 days to get to Earth's nearest planetary neighbor, where it will drop into orbit and explore the hot, dense atmosphere of Venus.

"The mission is an outstanding success," Gaele Winters, director of ESA's operations in Darmstadt, told reporters. "We had a perfect launch, the instruments are switched on, the solar panels are deployed, everything is working."

The Venus mission is the latest sign that competition in space is heating up even as NASA is reassessing its own exploration plans.

NASA is cutting some of its programs to focus resources on developing a replacement for the space shuttle.

The space shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003 caused NASA to ground its fleet for more than two years. Flights resumed in July with the Discovery, but the dangerous loss of a chunk of its insulation during launch has put future missions on hold until at least May, and possibly even next summer. NASA plans 18 more shuttle flights to the international space station and possibly one to the Hubble Space Telescope before the fleet is retired in 2010.

"NASA has really dominated in planetary science and missions for the last 40 years," having seen off the challenge from the former Soviet Union, said Spas Baradash of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. "But now Europe is catching up."

Last month, two Chinese astronauts spent five days in orbit last month on that country's second manned mission.

Japan and India also are ramping up their programs, and despite close cooperation between scientists and agencies, "maybe we are witnessing the beginning of a new space race," said Baradash, who worked on the instruments aboard Venus Express.

David Southwood, ESA's scientific director, said the Venus mission "once again illustrates Europe's determination to explore the different bodies in our solar system."

European scientists plan to apply next month for funding for new ESA missions to Mars and the moon.

Venus Express follows ESA's successful Mars Express, launched in 2003. It is Europe's first mission to Venus, which is sometimes visible at sunrise or sunset along the horizon.

The Venus mission aims to explore the planet's atmosphere, concentrating on its greenhouse effect and the hurricane force winds that constantly encircle it at high altitudes.

There have been roughly 20 U.S. and Soviet missions to Venus since the 1960s, the last being NASA's Magellan, which completed more than 15,000 orbits between 1990 and 1994. Using radar, Magellan mapped virtually its entire surface, revealing towering volcanoes, gigantic rifts and crisp-edged craters.

The Venus Express' seven instruments, including a special camera as well as a spectrometer to measure temperatures and analyze the atmosphere, will try to determine whether the planet's volcanoes are active. It also will examine how a world so similar to Earth could have evolved so differently.

"Venus is still a big mystery," said Gerhard Schwehm, head of planetary missions at ESA.

In the next three days, mission controllers will continue testing the probe's instruments. It is expected to reach Venus in April, when it will slow down to enter the planet's orbit. It will begin the initial stages of gathering data in June.

"We hope to see the first results in early July," said Schwehm, adding that the probe will remain active for more than a year.

Venus and Earth are alike in that they share similar mass and density. Both have inner cores of rock and are believed to have been formed at roughly the same time.

However, they have vastly different atmospheres, with Venus' composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide and very little water vapor. It also has the hottest surface of all the planets in the solar system.


Questions you mak ask to explore further this topic:

What are the planets in the solar system?

What is Venus?

What are rockets and how do they work?

What is the European Space Agency?

What is NASA?

What is the International Space Station?

What are telescopes?

What can the Hubble Telescope see?

What was Magellan's mission to Venus?


In the following, you will find a workshop about astronomy:


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:02 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:04 pm    Post subject: Interesting.......... Reply with quote

Those facts and things that I've just read is very interesting.Such as Space Science and astrology maniac like me,Im waiting for more of those special events and facts.I hope you would still continue this educational program.
-Bernard Yves Bagalso
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:20 am    Post subject: Venus Express enters orbit around the Hothouse Planet Reply with quote

Europe scores new planetary success: Venus Express enters orbit around the Hothouse Planet

11 April 2006

ESA PR 13-2006. This morning, at the end of a 153-day and 400-million km cruise into the inner Solar System beginning with its launch on 9 November 2005, ESA’s Venus Express space probe fired its main engine at 09:17 CEST for a 50-minute burn, which brought it into orbit around Venus.

With this firing, the probe reduced its relative velocity toward the planet from 29,000 to about 25,000 km/h and was captured by its gravity field. This orbit insertion manoeuvre was a complete success.
During the next four weeks, the Venus Express probe will perform a series of manoeuvres to reach the scheduled operational orbit for its scientific mission. It will move from its current highly elongated 9-day orbit to a 24-hour polar orbit, culminating at 66,000 kilometres. From this vantage point, the orbiter will conduct an in-depth observation of the structure, chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus for at least two Venusian days (486 Earth days).

Atmospheric investigations by Venus Express
Enigmatic atmosphere

From previous missions to Venus as well as observations directly from Earth, we already know that our neighbouring planet is shrouded in a thick atmosphere where extremes of temperature and pressure conditions are common. This atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect of tremendous proportions as it spins around the planet in four days in an unexplained 'super-rotation' phenomenon.

The mission of Venus Express will be to carry out a detailed characterisation of this atmosphere, using state-of-the-art sensors in order to answer the questions and solve the mysteries left behind by the first wave of explorers. It will also be the first Venus orbiter to conduct optical observations of the surface through 'visibility windows' discovered in the infrared spectrum.

The commissioning of the onboard scientific instruments will begin shortly and the first raw data are expected within days. The overall science payload is planned to be fully operational within two months.

ESA can now add Venus to its range of Solar System studies
Europe explores the Solar System

With this latest success, ESA is adding another celestial body to its range of Solar System studies. ESA also operates Mars Express around Mars, SMART-1 around the Moon and is NASA’s partner on the Cassini orbiter around Saturn. In addition, ESA is also operating the Rosetta probe en route to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It should reach its target and become the first spacecraft ever to enter orbit around a comet nucleus by 2014. Meanwhile, ESA also plans to complete the survey of our celestial neighbours with the launch of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2013.

“With the arrival of Venus Express, ESA is the only space agency to have science operations under way around four planets: Venus, the Moon, Mars and Saturn” underlines Professor David Southwood, the Director of ESA’s science programmes. “We are really proud to deliver such a capability to the international science community.”

“To better understand our own planet, we need to explore other worlds in particular those with an atmosphere,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General. “We’ve been on Titan and we already are around Mars. By observing Venus and its complex atmospheric system, we will be able to better understand the mechanisms that steers the evolution of a large planetary atmosphere and the change of climates. In the end, it will help us to get better models of what is actually going on in our own atmosphere, for the benefit of all Earth citizens.”

Venus Express was developed for ESA by a European industrial team led by EADS Astrium incorporating 25 main contractors from 14 European countries. Its design is derived from that of its highly successful predecessor, Mars Express, and its payload accommodates seven instruments including upgraded versions of three instruments developed for Mars Express and two for Rosetta.

The PFS spectrometer will determine the temperature and composition profile of the atmosphere at very high resolution. It will also monitor the surface temperature and search for hot spots from possible volcanic activity. The UV/infrared SpicaV/SOIR spectrometer and the VeRa radioscience experiment will probe the atmosphere by observing the occultation of distant starts or the fading of radio signals on the planetary limb. SpicaV/SOIR will be particularly looking for traces of water molecules, molecular oxygen and sulphur compounds, which are suspected to exist in the atmosphere of Venus. The Virtis spectrometer will map the different layers of the atmosphere and provide imagery of the cloud systems at multiple wavelengths to characterise the atmospheric dynamics.

Venus, a planet with no magnetic shelter
On the outer edge of the atmosphere, the Aspera instrument and a magnetometer will investigate the interaction with the solar wind and plasma it generates in an open environment without the protection of a magnetosphere like the one we have around Earth.

The VMC wide-angle multi-channel camera will provide imagery in four wavelengths, including one of the 'infrared windows' which will make imaging of the surface possible through the cloud layer. It will provide global images and will assist in the identification of phenomena detected by the other instruments.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:43 am    Post subject: One year at Venus, and going strong Reply with quote

One year at Venus, and going strong

European Space Agency

11 April 2007

One year has passed since 11 April 2006, when Venus Express, Europe’s first mission to Venus and the only spacecraft now in orbit around the planet, reached its destination. Since then, this advanced probe, born to explore one of the most mysterious planetary bodies in the Solar System, has been revealing planetary details never caught before.

Intensively visited by several Russian and American probes from the 60s to the early 90s, Venus has always represented a puzzling target for scientists worldwide to observe. Venus Express, designed and built in record time by ESA, was conceived with the purpose of studying Venus - unvisited since 1994 - in the most comprehensive and systematic way ever, to provide a long-due tribute to a planet so interesting, yet cryptic.

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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:17 am    Post subject: Venus Express’ infrared camera goes filming Reply with quote

Venus Express’ infrared camera goes filming


7 May 2007
An exciting new series of videos from ESA’s Venus Express has been capturing atmospheric details of day and night areas simultaneously, at different altitudes.

The south pole of the planet and its gigantic double vortex has been pictured as never before.
The south pole of Venus and the double-eyed storm permanently rule atmospheric phenomena in that area of the planet. They are key to understanding the global atmospheric dynamics on Venus and will contribute to a better comprehension of the global meteorology of the planet.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 4:03 pm    Post subject: Basque Country University researchers publish two articles i Reply with quote

Basque Country University researchers publish two articles in Nature on latest discoveries on Venus
30 November 2007
Basque Research

Nature journal has published a series of articles devoted to the new discoveries by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express space probe made on our neighbouring planet. Two researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Agustín Sánchez Lavega and Ricardo Hueso of the Planetary Sciences Team at the Higher School of Engineering in Bilbao, are the co-authors of the two articles.

The Venus Express space mission was launched in November 2005 and entered in planetary orbit in April 2006. Since then it has been regularly sending data and images from Venus. Thanks to this space mission, researchers are beginning to reveal some of the secrets of this mysterious planet, so similar in size to the Earth while, at the same time, being an inhospitable world with its high temperatures caused by a runaway greenhouse effect and the poisonous composition of its atmosphere and clouds. Researchers Agustín Sánchez Lavega and Ricardo Hueso took part in the observations and analyses carried out by VIRTIS, a spectrum camera that takes pictures simultaneously in visible and infrared light and obtains high-resolution spectra. Nature magazine has published seven research articles, two of which have been co-written by the abovementioned researchers. The aim of the investigation is the detailed study of the planet’s atmosphere, its meteorology, its strange, sulphuric acid cloud formations and the evolution of its climate.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:20 pm    Post subject: Sister Planet: Mission to Venus reveals watery past Reply with quote

Week of Dec. 1, 2007; Vol. 172, No. 22 , p. 339

Sister Planet: Mission to Venus reveals watery past
Sarah C. Williams

Dense clouds of sulfuric acid blanketing Venus have posed a problem for scientists seeking inside information about Earth's nearest planetary neighbor.

Now, the Venus Express probe, launched by the European Space Agency in 2005, has ventured beneath those clouds and found evidence that Venus once had more water than it does today. The probe also provided detailed new measurements of the weather on Venus, proof of lightning on the planet, and signs of a formerly unknown hot spot near its south pole.

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