Venus Express Mission
Venus Express will investigate:
- The structure of Venus' atmosphere
- The composition and chemistry of Venus' atmosphere
- Dynamics of Venus' atmosphere
- The radiative balance on Venus
- The plasma environment and escape processes
- Venus' surface properties and geology
Missions to Venus have been generally more successful than the missions
to Mars: to date, thirteen Soviet and four atmospheric entry craft and
landers have probed the deep atmosphere of Venus, and two orbiters have
explored its atmosphere and surface, including Pioneer Venus, Venera 15,
Venera 16 and Magellan. In addition, two balloons (Vega 1 and Vega 2)
have flown in the atmosphere of Venus.
But, perhaps more compelling, Venus is a planet with incredible charisma and a history of contribution to key scientific discoveries, including both the heliocentric nature of the solar system and estimations of the speed of light. Interest in Venus remains relevant today, perhaps more so because of what the planet, so similar to our own, can tell us about the Earth's evolution, atmosphere, and possibly even future.
Further study is necessary to understand the condition of the planet, radar map the surface, and solve the great number of Venus' mysteries. To this end, the Venus Express mission is engaged in a global investigation of Venus' atmosphere, plasma environment, and some important aspects of its geology and surface physics.
If Venus and Earth formed in the same neighborhood of the Sun, why has Venus evolved so differently from Earth despite their many similarities?
Venus and Earth have much in common but have significant differences in physical characteristics. These differences that have been determined from previous missions to Venus and Earth based observations lead to the following questions that Venus Express mission scientists want to explore with relevant observations.
- What role does the greenhouse effect play in the past, present, and in the future?
- What is the global thermal balance of the planet?
- How does the cloud system work?
- How did the atmosphere of Venus evolve?
- What are the behavior and characteristics of the clouds and hazes at the different levels?
- What is the origin of the UV markings in the clouds? What is the absorber?
- What is driving the rapid rotation of the atmosphere of Venus?
- What causes the circulation to be organized as a hemispheric vortex?
- What are the evolutionary and escape processes of water?
- How do the global dynamics of the planet work?
- Is there presently volcanic or seismic activity?
- What is the origin of the highly radar reflective areas on the surface?