Friday, July 18, 2014

Europe's Venus Express

Venus Express was launched by the European Space Agency back in 2006, it has been data mining our cloud-covered neighbor ever since. It is however nearing the end of its operational life and in order to get as much out of the trip as possible the operators sent her on a daring dive into Venus' upper atmosphere to gather more information.

Venus as you may or may not know is an uncomfortable place for us, its acidic clouds, volcanic surface and toxic atmosphere all making life there a bit bumpy…or depending on whether you are a glass half full or glass half empty type of person, impossible.

Venus Express took note of a 1000 fold increase in atmospheric pressure from 160 to 130km (from Space Dot Com) form the surface. That's pretty wicked. The pressure on the surface crushes anything we've sent in the past, the last craft being a Soviet craft in 1985.

The sad end of Venus Express is coming because the space craft is running out of fuel. She'll plunge into the Cauldron before too long.

post script: Even now there are some life forms floating in the atmosphere who saw this probe and are shouting about aliens from another planet, but no one will believe them!

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