Feeds

Venus Express is on its way

Heading sunwards

High performance access to file storage

Europe's Venus Express mission successfully blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in the small hours of this morning. Mission controllers received a signal from the craft some 90 minutes after launch, confirming that all was well.

Launch of Venus Express at 03:33 GMT by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket

It will spend the next five months en route to our sister planet where it will study the atmosphere and planetary surface for clues about Venus' past. Scientists hope that some of the data might illuminate the mechanics of climate change more fully, and help us to understand weather systems on our own planet.

"With Venus Express, we fully intend to demonstrate yet again that studying the planets is of vital importance for life here on Earth," said Jean Jacques Dordain, ESA's director general.

"To understand climate change on Earth and all the contributing factors, we cannot make do with solely observing our own planet. We need to decipher the mechanics of the planetary atmosphere in general terms."

The next big challenge for Venus Express will come just as it arrives at the planet, when the engines will need to wake up to complete a long, sustained braking burn to slot the craft into its orbit.

Although the Venus Express craft is based on the same design as the Mars Express mission, and carries many similar experiments, the Venusian Gravity is much greater than that of Mars, meaning the braking will have to be more severe.

When Venus Express arrives at its destination in April 2006 it will drop into an elliptical polar orbit. At perigee (the closest approach to the planet) it will orbit a mere 250km above the planet's surface, while its apogee (furthest away) will take it to a distance of some 66,000km.

Its job will be to peer through the dense cloudy atmosphere and gather data that will help scientists unravel some of the unusual phenomena observed in the Venusian clouds. It will also study the surface of the planet, looking for signs of geological activity. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.