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Europe’s first Venus Exploration Mission



Beautiful planet Venus

Venus is roughly -4-5 class at its brightest. Because of this, Venus is the second brightest celestial body on Earth after the sun and the moon. Venus, the second planet in the solar system, called the Night Star, got its name from Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, even in the West because of its unique beauty.


Europe's first Venus exploration mission

Why is humanity obsessed with Venus?

Venus has been one of the great concerns of humanity since yes. Because Venus is slightly smaller than our Earth, it is often called Earth’s twin planets, but Venus’s atmosphere is quite different from Earth’s, as explained above. Around this time, humanity began to wonder why planets of similar size and similar locations evolved in such different ways. However, Venus has long been a veiled planet, and it’s only been a few decades since humanity began delving into Venus.

It was also Mars and Venus that began to attract the most attention when humanity began to wonder if there could be another living being somewhere in our infinitely wide solar system. To date, only Earth is the planet inhabited for life, but recent simulations by Dr. Michael Wei’s team from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have revealed some pretty interesting results that Earth may not be the first home. of the life. The research team claimed that Venus, now in ruins, may have been a habitable planet for life a few billion years ago and that Venus became a planet of death due to carbon dioxide and slowly rotating.

The unmanned Japanese probe Akatsuki (which means sunrise in Japanese) also claimed that while the existence of life on Venus in the past remains in doubt, it is assumed that Venus was once similar to Earth.

europe venus exploration challenge

As a proxy for the recent popularity of Venus, the European Space Agency has chosen The EnVision, a Venus orbital mission that maps Venus as the fifth mission (M5 mission) of the Cosmic Vision Project’s medium-size M-class missions. This choice in Europe allows us to see how passionate Europe is when exploring Venus, as it has been chosen over competitors such as the spica and THESEUS missions. So what was Europa’s first mission to Venus? What scientific results has humanity obtained from previous missions and why is Europa so passionate about exploring Venus?

Europe’s first mission to Venus is the Venus Express (or called VEX) mission, launched in November 2005. The earlier mission was first proposed in 2001 by a consortium led by Dr. Dimitri Titov, Emmanuel Ellouch, and Dr. Fredric William Taylor. The interesting thing is that the previous mission was originally proposed to recycle the main payload and design of the first Mars Express mission of Europe’s Mars rover, in which the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian space scientists participated together in missions. on other planets. Of course, you cannot use it as is. For example, Venus is much closer to the sun than Mars, so the radiant heat varies approximately four times. Therefore, Europe decided to adopt the full-time Mars Express mission to the environment of Venus.

Launched with the goal of conducting scientific research with long-term observations of the atmosphere of Venus in polar orbit around Venus, the Venus Express mission planned to observe Venus for longer than any previous Venus mission. Long-term observations provide a detailed understanding of the atmospheric dynamics of Venus, which can also provide clues to climate change on Earth. Venus Express is the first European mission to Venus, but it is one of the missions that has helped us get to know Venus better through long-term observations of Venus. It is no exaggeration to say that the success of Venus Express has made Europa a trigger for choosing Venus missions when choosing new ones. Thanks to previous missions, Europa is preparing for a more powerful Venus exploration mission.

Payloads on Venus Express

Venus Express has seven payloads. Equipped for the purpose of observing and studying the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere of Venus and the interaction of the atmosphere with plasma, the Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms ANALYZER reused the ASPERA-3 design used in Mars Express but was adapted to the harsh surroundings of Venus. The magnetometer, called MAG, was equipped with plans to support ASPERA-4 in studying the interaction between the atmosphere of Venus and the solar wind, focusing on the strength of the magnetic fields of Venus. MAG was designed based on a ROMAP kit that was mounted on the lander of the Comet Rosetta research mission. Venus Monitoring Camera (VMC), a CCD camera equipped to map the brightness distribution of the surface of Venus by studying the distribution of Venus’s search for volcanic activity and upper atmospheric UV absorption using visible, ultraviolet and infrared rays nearby, is an upgraded version of the Visual Monitoring Camera on Mars Express.

The Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS), which operates in infrared light in the wavelength range of 0.9 to 45 μm and is equipped to investigate more detailed observations of Venus’s atmosphere, atmospheric components, and aerosol analysis , and its interactions, is also one of the assembled payloads. based on the Mars Express spectrometer. Derived from the SPICAM team flown by Mars Express, SPectroscopy for Education of The Atmosphere of Venus is a spectrometer for the irreverence of the Atmosphere of Venus, and VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) is a thermal spectrometer that uses visible and infrared light. . Finally, Venus Radio Science is a mounted payload to analyze the ionosphere and the surface of the atmosphere and Venus.

Venus Express was launched with the Soyuz-FG / Fregat rocket from Kazakhstan on November 9, 2005, after a two-week delay to inspect small fragments of insulation on the top of the rocket. Venus Express, overseen by ESOC, ESA’s control center in Darmstadt, Germany, confirmed that it reached Venus on April 11, 2006, after a long 153-day journey. Venus Express needed additional control to enter the 24-hour orbit of Venus and finally entered its target orbit on May 7 of the same year.

Venus Express, which planned and departed the mission for about 500 days at launch, was very successful in observing Venus and then extended five times further, increasing its mission to 2015. Venus Express, which studied the atmosphere Venus, clouds, surface features, plasma, and more, finally ended its mission on December 16, 2014, when transmission to Earth was lost. The last signal from the spacecraft was detected on January 18, 2015.

Europe's first Venus exploration mission

Scientific discovery by Venus Express (1) – Venus’s ionosphere swells up like a comet’s tail.

Venus Express conducted numerous scientific studies, along with a number of significant discoveries, particularly during periods of reduced solar wind pressure, which found that Venus’s ionosphere swelled up like a comet’s tail at night. An ionosphere is a layer higher than the planetary atmosphere, a weakly charged region of gas.

In August 2010, NASA’s Stereo-B spacecraft observed that the density of the solar wind was about 50 times lower than usual, lasting about 18 hours. At this point, Venus Express also took a closer look at Venus, observing a globe of Venus’s ionosphere that looked very similar to the shape of the comet’s ion tail. The teardrop-shaped ionization layer began to form 30 minutes to an hour after the normal high-pressure solar wind weakened, confirming that Venus’s ionization layer expanded at least two more times over two days. of the time of the Earth.

For heaps of earth with strong magnetic fields, the ionizing layer is relatively stable to changes in the solar wind. However, Venus does not have its own internal magnetic field, so it has to rely on interactions with the solar wind to form an ion shell. While it is still controversial that the shape of the ionosphere depends on the century of the solar wind, the Venus Express observations are significant when it first reveals the effects of a very low solar wind pressure on a planet’s ionosphere without flare. Through this, we learned how the solar wind affects the way the plasma in the ionosphere of Venus moves. As a result, Venus Express observed that even if solar winds decrease, the sun can still have a significant impact on the environment of neighboring planets. The researchers predicted that a similar effect would occur on non-magnetized planets like Mars.

Scientific Discoveries by Venus Express (2) – Changes in Venus Wind Speed

Venus Express also made observations on changes in wind speed on Venus. During the Venus Express decade (six years on Earth), the Venus Express team tracked the movement of clouds that existed about 70 kilometers from the planet’s surface, allowing them to monitor patterns in wind speed and revealed that the winds of Venus were constantly accelerating. Dr. IgorKatuntsev of the Moscow Space Institute said that when Venus Express first arrived at Venus in 2006, the average wind speed of the clouds between latitudes of 50º was about 300 km / h, but the wind speed increased to about 400 km / h during the mission.

Scientific Discoveries by Venus Express (3) – The Glory of Venus phenomenon

Venus Express captured the beautiful phenomenon of the glory of Venus in March 2014. Similar to rainbows, it is considered to be a phenomenon in which sunlight is scattered in tiny droplets of clouds, while rainbows arch , while the glory is a multicolored annular continuum concentrated around the smallest, brightest nuclei. Glory can only be observed when the observer stands between the sun and the cloud particles, and it is known that cloud fragments must be spherical and the size of the drops in liquid state must be small. Glories are predicted to extend up to 1200 kilometers due to UV absorption, but follow-up research is still needed.

Scientific Discoveries by Venus Express (4) – Venus and Water

Venus Express has now made additional observations to clarify why Venus lacks water. In doing so, the Venus Express team discovered that there is a powerful electric field, which is powerful enough to deplete oxygen, one of the important components of water, in the upper layers of Venus. The research team found that Venus’s electric field is at least five times larger than expected, and if an electric field exists, hydrogen ions (protons) and oxygen ions from the planet’s atmosphere could be removed due to solar winds. This is the main ingredient in water production, so it may be the answer to why Venus has less water.

Venus is closer to the sun than the earth, so it can receive more ultraviolet rays. This can lead to more free electron generation and stronger electric fields in the planet’s atmosphere. In particular, the above study is considered a significant discovery that can be applied not only to our solar system but also to exoplanet systems as a result of the discovery of the mechanism by which water disappears from planets close to the star.

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