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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 11, 2005 17:07:00 GMT -6
Venus Express - ready to study Venusian atmosphere
Venus Express, the first European space probe to investigate the planet Venus has completed the development, integration and test phase in Toulouse. Venus Express is being manufactured by EADS Astrium as prime contractor for ESA (European Space Agency). The research probe is scheduled for launch on board a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) in late October 2005. EADS is the principal shareholder of Starsem, the launch provider, with 35%, Arianespace holding 15%.
For two Venusian years (500 Earth days), the probe will investigate the atmosphere of the hottest planet in terms of structure, composition and dynamics. Venus Express, carrying seven scientific instruments (spectrometers, imagers and a plasma analyser) will orbit the second planet of the solar system at an altitude between 250 and 66,000 kilometres by flying above its poles.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 24, 2005 9:46:14 GMT -6
Europe's Venus mission delayed
The launch of Europe's first mission to Venus, due to have taken place next Wednesday, has been postponed.
The European Space Agency (Esa) has not yet announced a new date for the launch, only that it will be delayed by "several days".
The probe is to blast off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
It will slip into orbit around Venus next year, using science instruments to study the planet from space.
Esa said the delay had been prompted by the discovery that insulation from the rocket launcher had contaminated the Venus Express spacecraft.
"The satellite is contaminated, so they will have to dismantle and re-mount it again," a spokesperson for the space agency told the BBC News website.
Venus Express will also need to be cleaned up to remove any trace of the insulation.
The contaminating material could have come from the rocket's upper "Fregat" stage, which boosts Venus Express into its interplanetary flight trajectory, or from the fairings, which protect the spacecraft during launch.
The spacecraft will carry out the first global investigation of Venus' atmosphere, to shed light on how the planet evolved its hellish climate.