The Venus Express mission aims at a global investigation of Venus' atmosphere and plasma environment from orbit and addresses several important aspects of the geology and surface physics. Reuse of the Mars Express bus is an excellent and appropriate opportunity to make a breakthrough in the Venus exploration.
The instruments developed for the Mars Express and Rosetta missions are very well suited for this task. IWF Graz is the Principal Investigator institute and participates in the mission by providing, together with TU Braunschweig and Imperial College London, the magnetometer VEX-MAG. In addition, IWF is Co-Investigator for the ion spectrometer ASPERA.
The launch of Venus Express was originally scheduled for 26 October 2005. Due to contamination detected inside the launcher's fairing the launch had to be postponed by 14 days. On 9 November 2005, at 4:33 CET, the European spacecraft was successfully launched by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan. It was then placed into a trajectory, which has taken it on its journey from Earth towards its destination of the planet Venus. IWF invited the interested public to follow the live transmission of the launch and organizied a Space Brunch. Photos of the event are found in our Image Gallery.
On 11 April 2006, the spacecraft entered its orbit around Venus (Venus Orbit Insertion - VOI) and now explores our neighbouring planet for roughly 500 Earth days; at this occasion, IWF organized an informational Venus Express VOI Event.
From Spring 2006 on, Venus Express revolves around Venus in an elliptical orbit over de Venus poles, one orbit in 24 hrs. The magnetometer VEXMAG is always switched on, delivering data from the different plasma regions and boundaries around Venus, as well as from the undisturbed solar wind for larger distances from the planet.
More information about the Venus Express mission is found at ESA.