Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Venus mission will hold surprises says U. of Colorado planetary scientist

03.11.2005


Veteran CU-Boulder scientist on camera team

University of Colorado at Boulder planetary scientist Larry Esposito, a member of the European Space Agency’s Venus Express science team, believes the upcoming mission to Earth’s "evil twin" planet should be full of surprises.

While its 875-degree F. surface is hot enough to make rocks glow and its atmosphere is filled with noxious carbon dioxide gases and acid rain, Venus actually is more Earth-like than Mars, said Esposito, a professor in CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. A member of the Venus Monitoring Camera team for the $260 million now slated for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 9, Esposito said Venus is a "neglected planet" that undoubtedly harbors a number of astounding discoveries.



One question revolves around what is known as an "unknown ultraviolet absorber" high in the planet’s clouds that blocks sunlight from reaching the surface. "Some scientists believe there is the potential, at least, that life could be found in the clouds of Venus," said Esposito. "There has been speculation that sunlight absorbed by the clouds might be involved in some kind of biological activity."

Esposito is particularly eager to see if volcanoes on Venus are still active. In 1983 he used data from a CU-Boulder instrument that flew on NASA’s Pioneer Venus spacecraft to uncover evidence that a massive volcanic eruption there poured huge amounts of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. The eruption, which likely occurred in the late 1970s, appears to have been at least 10 times more powerful than any that have occurred on Earth in more than a century, he said.

"The spacecraft will be looking for ’hotspots’ through the clouds in an attempt to make a positive detection of volcanoes," said Esposito, who made the first observations of Venus with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. "While the Magellan mission that mapped Venus in the 1990s was not able to find evidence of volcanic activity, it did not close out the question. This will give us another shot."

Since Venus and Earth were virtual twins at birth, scientists are puzzled how planets so similar in size, mass and composition could have evolved such different physical and chemical processes, he said. "The results from missions like this have major implications for our understanding of terrestrial planets as a whole, and for comparable processes occurring on Earth and Mars," said Esposito.

Esposito has been involved in a number of planetary exploration missions at CU-Boulder. He currently is science team leader for the UltraViolet Imaging Spectrograph, a $12.5 million CU-Boulder instrument on the Cassini spacecraft now exploring the rings and moons of Saturn.

He also was an investigator for a CU-Boulder instrument that visited Jupiter and its moons in the 1990s aboard NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, and was an investigator for NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft that toted a CU-Boulder instrument on a tour of the solar system’s planets in the 1970s and 1980s.

Esposito was a science team member on two failed Russian missions to Mars -- the 1988 Phobos mission that exploded in space and the Mars 96 mission that crashed in Earth’s ocean. Five of the science instruments on Venus Express are "spares" from the Mars Express and Rosetta comet mission, according to ESA.

In addition to the camera, the Venus Express spacecraft also is carrying two imaging spectrometers, a spectrometer to measure atmospheric constituents, a radio science experiment and a space plasma and atom-detecting instrument. The spacecraft is expected to arrive at Venus in April 2006 and orbit the planet for about 16 months.

The Venus Express mission originally was scheduled to launch Oct. 26, but a thermal-insulation problem discovered in the upper-stage booster rocket caused a two-week delay. The launch window closes on Nov. 24.

Larry Esposito | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life
17.08.2017 | Goldschmidt Conference

nachricht Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors
17.08.2017 | American Institute of Physics

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>