11.4.07

Venus Express, 1st Anniversary

Image source and description.
Credit: ESA/VIRTIS/INAF-IASF/Obs. de Paris-LESIA


I must admit, I had forgotten all about ESA mission Venus Express. Small wonder: they've released little information and only 8 images, the last four doled out to celebrate its first anniversary today: one Earth year orbiting Venus. Good thing then, that we have the Planetary Society Blog to draw our attention to it.

You can read the news item here at the Venus Express homepage, including some of the things we've learned about this cloudy, noxious world.

It's also well worth checking out Emily Lakdawalla's post on it at the Planetary Society Blog here. It seems that Venus may get a little interesting over the next couple of months, as MESSENGER will be using the planet for a gravity assist (in this case trying to lose momentum*), and there is going to be some co-ordinated science from the two probes.

*This is the momentum that the spacecraft starts with merely by virtue of being launched from the Earth, which is farther from the sun than Mercury. You can find a slightly more thorough description of this here. By the way, if you don't think reaching Mercury sounds very hard, take a look at the route MESSENGER will be taking. Basically - and this is nudging into territory that I always mean to learn more about but never get around to - it will have started out with an orbit around the sun pretty much the same as the Earth's, and the problem is shrinking that orbit down to reach Mercury's. (The most difficult part of spaceflight is that you can't reach anything by moving in a straight line.)

1 comment:

tinker said...

"The most difficult part of spaceflight is that you can't reach anything by moving in a straight line."
Unfortunately, this seems to hold true in a lot of areas of life, as well.
o_0