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The Official * Venus * Exploration Thread


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The Official * Venus * Exploration Thread
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-04, 14:08

Finally, a mission we can reasonably expect to watch immediate results from.
(adds to daily site check list)

The ESA Venus Express mission plans to orbit the 2nd planet within 96 days.

See the Venus Express Special Home Page

Official Mission Science & Technology Home Page

Launched November 9th on a Russian rocket watch it here

Looks like ESA is working on some regular podcasts, too.

That Venus... she's smoking hot, but the acid clouds and crushing pressure might make her a bit too much of a bitch for most of us to handle.
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709
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2006-01-04, 14:32

Thank for the new threads curiousuburb. I love this kind of thing.

Also, in the 'spirit' of exploration, I'd like to wish Spirit a happy 2 year anniversary today, and Opportunity a happy number 2 coming up on the 25th. May you both avoid the sticky dunes and may the wind always be at your solar panels.

So it goes.
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Moogs
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2006-01-04, 20:05

I agree. Burb, you are righteous in your choice of postings. Was watching a show from last January about the Mars missions. Can't believe two years have past already. Good stuff....

Bush on Putin: "..I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy... was able to get a sense of his soul."
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drewprops
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2006-01-05, 00:05

Venus by Ben Bova was a fun read (as are most all of Bova's books).
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T-Man
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2006-01-05, 07:18

So, when do we get to Venus?
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-05, 07:38

11 April 2006 - 08:32:47 UT - or thereabouts.

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curiousuburb
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2006-03-03, 07:16

Venus Mission Anniversary marks ramp-up to Venus Express Arrival

Quote:
3 March 2006
Excitement grows around the progress of ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft as the distance to its destination gets shorter, in the week which sees the anniversary of another historical Venus mission.

On 1 March 1982, the first colour picture of the Venusian surface was returned by the Russian Venera 13 spacecraft.

Now, twenty-four years later and about forty days before its thrilling arrival at Venus, the Venus Express spacecraft has passed an important exam. The Venus Express mission team declared that the spacecraft systems are ready for the orbit insertion around Venus and for the first in-orbit operations.

... continues
40 days until arrival... watch this thread... or look up in the morning.
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curiousuburb
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2006-03-20, 08:22

21 days until arrival...

The first Official "Venus Orbit Insertion Podcast" is now available online.
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curiousuburb
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2006-04-03, 12:16

7 days until Venus Orbit Insertion... all systems go.

Details of the timeline of events can be found here, while a more general press release is here, including webcast schedule for live coverage

And there's a new podcast up.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2006-04-10, 08:41

18 hours to Venus Orbit Insertion...

Check the ESA webcast schedules if you want to watch the mission control reaction.

By tomorrow, we should have groovy new images and data if all goes well. But a bit like MRO, the orbital aerobraking and adjustment will take a few months to refine to the optimum for data gathering... tomorrow may be one of our few chances to see the full disc before a lower orbit puts us too close for the big picture view.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Brad
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2006-04-10, 09:04

Awesome. Don't take the lack of replies here as disinterest in the subject. I'm sure there are other curious readers such as my myself who just have nothing to add.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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curiousuburb
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2006-04-11, 06:11

Successful Orbit Insertion!

Earth's Evil Twin has a new orbiter.

BBC Story

The press conference seemed oversubscribed (and only available in WMP), but should replay later for those who want to check the ESA TV Previous Transmissions Page

Space.com story
Quote:
The initial nine-day orbit is designed to be highly elliptical ranging from an altitude of between 248 miles (400 kilometers) and 217,479 miles (350,000 kilometers) above Venus' surface, and gives the probe its only view of the entire planet’s disk during its mission, mission managers have said. Two more burns will be conducted in the coming days to bring the orbit into its operational altitude of between 155 miles (250 kilometers) and 41,010 miles (66,000 kilometers).

Venus Express is not expected to begin full operations until mid-May, but mission managers will begin switching the probe’s seven observing instruments by Wednesday with the first image to arrive on Thursday, ESA officials said.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Dave
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2006-04-11, 06:27

Geez, they weren't kidding when they said "highly elliptical". I'm surprised it won't burn up getting that low.

Edit: Hmm... that might not be as low as I thought it was. Anyone know how thick Venus's atmosphere is?

When I was a kid, people who did wrong were punished, restricted, and forbidden. Now, when someone does wrong, all of the rest of us are punished, restricted, and forbidden... and the one who did the wrong is counselled and "understood" and fed ice cream.

Last edited by Dave : 2006-04-11 at 06:34.
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billybobsky
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2006-04-11, 08:27

I believe 155 miles is well within the atmosphere of venus as its atmosphere is considerably thicker than earths...
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Dave
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2006-04-11, 13:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky
I believe 155 miles is well within the atmosphere of venus as its atmosphere is considerably thicker than earths...
How thick is earth's?

Edit: About 500 miles
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billybobsky
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2006-04-11, 13:34

Earth's atmosphere is about 100 km thick...

It isn't an easy calculation but given that Venus is about the same size as earth, has an atmosphere that is composed mostly of CO2, which is approximately 1.5 times as dense as nitrogen, and that it is 90 times as massive -- I would guess that its atmosphere is anywhere between 30 and 60 times as thick as earths...
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Dave
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2006-04-11, 14:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by billybobsky
Earth's atmosphere is about 100 km thick...

It isn't an easy calculation but given that Venus is about the same size as earth, has an atmosphere that is composed mostly of CO2, which is approximately 1.5 times as dense as nitrogen, and that it is 90 times as massive -- I would guess that its atmosphere is anywhere between 30 and 60 times as thick as earths...
Mostly CO2, eh? Sounds like we should try to get plants growing over there to make some O2 for our Venus Colonies*. The lack of water might be a problem. Along with the temperatures. Would "fixing" the air over there help cool off the planet?

*Yes, I know they don't exist. But it'd be fun to make some.

When I was a kid, people who did wrong were punished, restricted, and forbidden. Now, when someone does wrong, all of the rest of us are punished, restricted, and forbidden... and the one who did the wrong is counselled and "understood" and fed ice cream.
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billybobsky
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2006-04-11, 14:05

No, fixing the air won't help... Water and methane (the products of photosynthetic fixation of CO2) are better greenhouse gases that CO2... In fact, it would get even hotter...
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Dorian Gray
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2006-04-11, 14:15

How do you plan on "fixing" about 4,698,585,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 anyway, Dave?

I'm out of the loop on planetary space missions, but I was under the impression that NASA had sent a rover to Venus. How did the craft survive the descent through the dense atmosphere, and the high temperatures on the surface? Venus seems like a pretty shitty place to spend the night!
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709
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2006-04-11, 14:25

It was piloted by Chuck Norris.
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Kickaha
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2006-04-11, 14:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Awesome. Don't take the lack of replies here as disinterest in the subject. I'm sure there are other curious readers such as my myself who just have nothing to add.
Yeah, I'm here strictly as a spectator, but keep all the space threads comin'.

I really can't get enough of this kind of stuff.
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curiousuburb
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2006-04-11, 19:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
I'm out of the loop on planetary space missions, but I was under the impression that NASA had sent a rover to Venus. How did the craft survive the descent through the dense atmosphere, and the high temperatures on the surface? Venus seems like a pretty shitty place to spend the night!
I think you're thinking of a two-part episode of Six Million Dollar Man



There have been landers on Venus... mainly Russian Soviet ones, the Venera missions ( 3 through 14... not all "successful" ), but temperatures that melt lead, sulfuric acid rain, and atmospheric pressures equivalent to 1km below the sea meant that none lasted long.



There are a few more images... including some from the surface on the links above.

No rovers. Yet.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2006-04-11 at 19:49.
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Dave
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2006-04-11, 21:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
How do you plan on "fixing" about 4,698,585,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes of CO2 anyway, Dave?
Plants consume CO2 and give off O2, thus converting the atmosphere.

It takes a while.
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drewprops
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2006-04-11, 23:25

Shades of 'The Integral Trees'.

Hey, they've only planned for TWO DAYS of this mission!
How shortsighted is that?
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colivigan
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2006-04-11, 23:59

So what do the women of Venus look like? They've got to be hot. Sorry, all this talk of insertion has me a little worked up.
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curiousuburb
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2006-04-13, 21:56

First Images from Venus Express Show expected Dark Vortex on S pole.


Composite, false-colour view of Venus south pole captured by VIRTIS 12 April 2006 onboard Venus Express.

Additional Image DL page

Quote:
13 April 2006

ESA's Venus Express has returned the first-ever images of the hothouse planet’s south pole from a distance of 206 452 kilometres, showing surprisingly clear structures and unexpected detail. The images were taken 12 April during the spacecraft’s initial capture orbit after successful arrival on 11 April 2006.

Engineers have lost no time in switching on several of the instruments and yesterday the VMC (Venus Monitoring Camera) and VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) imaged, for the first time in space history, the southern hemisphere of Venus as the spacecraft passed below the planet in an elliptical arc.
Scientists are especially intrigued by the dark vortex shown almost directly over the south pole, a previously suspected but until now unconfirmed structure that corresponds to a similar cloud structure over the north pole. “Just one day after arrival, we are already experiencing the hot, dynamic environment of Venus,” said Dr Hakan Svedhem, Venus Express project scientist. “We will see much more detail at an unprecedented level as we get over 100 times better resolution as we get closer to Venus, and we expect to see these spiral structures evolve very quickly.”

The initial, low-quality images were taken from an extreme distance of 206 452 kms from the planet, yet caught scientists’ attention, particularly with the surprisingly clear structures and unexpected details shown in the VIRTIS spectrometer images.

The false-colour VIRTIS composite image shows Venus’s day side at left and night side at right, and corresponds to a scale of 50 kms per pixel.

The day half is itself a composite of images taken via wavelength filters and chiefly shows sunlight reflected from the tops of clouds, down to a height of about 65 km above the planet’s surface.

Dynamic spiral cloud structures

The more spectacular night half, shown in reddish false colour, was taken via an IR filter at a wavelength of 1.7 microns, and chiefly shows dynamic spiral cloud structures in the lower atmosphere, around 55 km altitude. The darker regions correspond to thicker cloud cover, while the brighter regions correspond to thinner cloud cover, allowing hot thermal radiation from lower down to be imaged.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Chinney
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2006-04-13, 23:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb
[...]

Launched November 9th on a Russian rocket watch it here

[...]
I am surprised it only took this long to reach Venus. Seems awfully quick. It's reassuring, somehow, to have another planet so close. But I guess it depends on the alignment, which constantly varies.

Let my hat be your umbrella
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Dorian Gray
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2006-04-13, 23:36

Interesting, but I seriously hope the scientists extract more information out of the constant stream of blurry images from these satellites than I do. When I see the images I always wonder whether they're worth millions of pounds/dollars/euros. Although exploration for its own sake is perhaps a worthy goal.
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curiousuburb
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2006-05-11, 08:36

Venus Express Update: Final Orbit of Venus Reached

The original ESA story is below (complete with some awkwardly translated stuff).

Basically the orbit now ranges elliptically between 250 km and 66,000 km, allowing for a nice mix of observations. The actual science isn't set to begin until full instrument check out is finished on June 4th, 2006, although we may see some calibration images or interim data that week.



Quote:
9 May 2006
Less than one month after insertion into orbit, and after sixteen loops around the planet Venus, ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has reached its final operational orbit on 7 May 2006.

Already at 21:49 CEST on 6th May, when the spacecraft communicated to Earth through ESA’s ground station at New Norcia (Australia), the Venus Express ground control team at ESA’s European Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt (Germany) received advanced confirmation that final orbit was to be successfully achieved about 18 hours later.

Launched on 9 November 2005, Venus Express arrived to destination on 11 April 2006, after a five-month interplanetary journey to the inner solar system. The initial orbit – or ‘capture orbit’ – was an ellipse ranging from 330 000 kilometres at its furthest point from Venus surface (apocentre) to less than 400 kilometres at its closest (pericentre).

As of the 9-day capture orbit, Venus Express had to perform a series of further manoeuvres to gradually reduce the apocentre and the pericentre altitudes over the planet. This was achieved by means of the spacecraft main engine – which had to be fired twice during this period (on 20 and 23 April 2006) - and through the banks of Venus Express’ thrusters – ignited five times (on 15, 26 and 30 April, 3 and 6 May 2006).

"Firing at apocentre allows the spacecraft to control the altitude of the next pericentre, while firing at the pericentre controls the altitude of the following apocentre," says Andrea Accomazzo, Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESOC. "It is through this series of operations that we reached the final orbit last Sunday, about one orbital revolution after the last ‘pericentre change manoeuvre’ on Saturday 6 May".

Venus Express entered its target orbit at apocentre on 7 May 2006 at 15:31 (CEST), when the spacecraft was at 151 million kilometres from Earth. Now the spacecraft is running on an ellipse substantially closer to the planet than during the initial orbit. The orbit now ranges between 66 000 and 250 kilometres over the Venus and it is polar. The pericentre is located almost above the North pole (80º North latitude), and it takes 24 hours for the spacecraft to travel around the planet.

"This is the orbit designed to perform the best possible observations of Venus, given the scientific objectives of the mission. These include global observations of the Venusian atmosphere, of the surface characteristics and of the interaction of the planetary environment with the solar wind," says Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express Project Scientist. "It allows detailed high resolution observations near pericentre and the North Pole, and it lets us study the very little explored region around the South Pole for long durations at a medium scale," he concluded.

Until beginning of June, Venus Express will continue its ‘orbit commissioning phase’, started on 22 April this year. "The spacecraft instruments are now being switched on one by one for detailed checking, which we will continue until mid May. Then we will operate them all together or in groups" said Don McCoy, Venus Express Project Manager. "This allows simultaneous observations of phenomena to be tested, to be ready when Venus Express’ nominal science phase begins on 4 June 2006," he concluded.
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curiousuburb
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2006-06-28, 19:32

Atmospheric Double Vortex discovered at Venusian South Pole.

Sulfuric Acid hurricanes are bad, mmmkay?


Quote:
Double vortex at Venus South Pole unveiled!

27 June 2006
ESA’s Venus Express data undoubtedly confirm for the first time the presence of a huge 'double-eye' atmospheric vortex at the planet's south pole. This striking result comes from analysis of the data gathered by the spacecraft during the first orbit around the planet.

On 11 April this year, Venus Express was captured into a first elongated orbit around Venus, which lasted 9 days, and ranged between 350 000 and 400 kilometres from Venus' surface. This orbit represented for the Venus Express scientists a unique opportunity to observe the planet from large distances. This made it possible to obtain first clues about the Venusian atmospheric dynamics on a global scale, before the spacecraft got closer and started observing the planet in greater detail.

During this first orbit – called the 'capture orbit' – some of the Venus Express instruments were used to perform the first observations at different distances from Venus, for a few hours per time on six different slots between 12 and 19 April 2006.

Venus's southern hemisphere in infrared

Amazing infrared, visible and ultraviolet images of the Venusian globe already reveal several atmospheric features of great interest. The most striking of these is a huge, double-eye atmospheric vortex over the south pole, not dissimilar from the equivalent structure present at the north pole – the only one previously studied in some detail.

... continues ...



This video is composed by six sequences of images (in false colour) taken by the Ultraviolet/Visible/Near-Infrared spectrometer (VIRTIS) on board ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft between 12 and 19 April 2006, during the first orbit, or ‘capture orbit’, around the planet.

The sequences (taken at 5 microns) were obtained during six different time slots and at different distances from Venus:

12 April: from 210 000 kilometres
13 April: from 280 000 kilometres
14 April: from 315 000 kilometres
16 April: from 315 000 kilometres
17 April: from 270 000 kilometres
19 April: from 190 000 kilometres

The planet’s globe, imaged at different angles, was mapped onto an electronic mock-up of Venus, so to have the South Pole always plotted at the centre of each single image.

Around the South pole it is possible to see a peculiar double-eye vortex structure, never clearly seen by any other Venusian mission before. The movie shows the rotation and the shape variation of the double vortex over time. It is also possible to see the rotation of the ‘terminator’, the line separating the day side – visible in yellow - from the night side.

The images also show the presence of a collar of cold air around the vortex structure (dark blue), possibly due to the recycling of cold air downwards.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2006-06-28 at 19:37.
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