Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

To Venus with Love

18.10.2005


On 26th October the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan en route to Earth’s closest planetary neighbour - the ultimate “greenhouse” planet, Venus. This is the first European mission to Venus, the nearest planet to the Earth and the brightest object in our night sky, apart from the Moon.



Whilst Earth and Venus share certain characteristics such as age, mass and diameter they are worlds apart in other respects. Venus has a very different climate to Earth’s with a thick corrosive atmosphere giving rise to a run away greenhouse effect, crushing pressure and extremely hot surface temperatures. But why has it evolved this way? Venus Express will provide the answer.

Professor Fred Taylor from the University of Oxford, a member of the Venus Express Project team (and one of the proposers of the mission), explains the appeal of visiting Venus, “Whilst there have been several past missions to Venus by the Americans and Russians, Venus has always proved difficult to explore. Venus Express is equipped to peer beneath the thick clouds that encircle the planet and probe the mysteries of Venus with a precision never achieved before and find out why Venus evolved so differently to Earth.”


Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive Officer of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council said, “With the Earth evolving to become much warmer and polluted, our sister planet, Venus, has much to offer us in terms of understanding our own climate. The science data set to return next year will have a huge impact on the way in which we deal with conditions on Earth demonstrating how the exploration of the Solar System has real impact on our daily lives.”

Venus Express builds on the heritage of ESA’s successful Mars Express mission by using not only the same spacecraft design but also making use of spares and copies of instruments from both Mars Express and Rosetta. This has enabled the project team to produce the spacecraft to a tight time schedule (less than 4 years) and with a modest budget of £140 million (200 million Euros).

Professor David Southwood, ESA’s Director of Science said, "The launch of Venus Express marks a significant milestone for ESA’s space science programme as our fastest (and one of the cheapest) mission implementation ever. Of course, it had to be simple and it slipstreamed on both Mars Express and Rosetta. However, against the sceptics’ expectations, we stepped up to the challenge, started just about three years ago, and now we are off to Venus!"

UK scientists and industrialists have a strong involvement in the mission with a team from the University of Oxford involved in the mission planning and science operations. University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory and CCLRC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory both have roles in the building and operation of ASPERA-4, a plasma analyser which will investigate the interaction of the solar wind and the atmosphere. The atmospheric pressure on Venus is almost one hundred times that on Earth. ASPERA-4 will study the escape process and rates for the first time in detail at Venus, providing an intriguing comparison to our other near Earth neighbour, Mars, which is also unmagnetized.

Scientists from Imperial College were involved in the design and build of the Magnetometer and along with scientists from the University of Sheffield are co-investigators on this instrument which will study how the solar wind interacts with Venus’s atmosphere to give unmagnetized Venus an induced magnetic field. Other instruments will study the atmosphere-surface interaction including possible, but as yet undetected, volcanism.

The instrument suite is completed by the Venus Monitoring Camera (to image the surface temperature composition), Venus Radio Science experiment, SPICAM (a UV and IR atmospheric spectrometer), VIRTIS (a visible-IR imaging spectrometer) and a Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (to make global 3D measurements of atmospheric temperature and composition to search for volcanic activity).

Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation said, “The UK is playing an important role in this exciting mission that will help us understand the full impact of climate change. The mission is made all the more cost effective by the fact that it has been put together efficiently by the re-use and recycling of existing space instrumentation.”

EADS Astrium Ltd, Toulouse are the main contractor for the spacecraft with the propulsion system designed, built and tested at the company’s UK site at Stevenage. SciSys Ltd, based in Chippenham, are responsible for the all important mission control software which supports the commanding of the spacecraft and the monitoring of the onboard spacecraft state.

After a 5 month journey to Venus the spacecraft will begin its science operations in April 2006. It will continue orbiting Venus for 500 days (2 Venusian days).

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/venus_launch.asp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Pulses of electrons manipulate nanomagnets and store information
21.07.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion
21.07.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>