Launched on 9 November 2005, ESAâ€™s Venus Express ended a 153-day and 400-million km cruise into the inner Solar System firing its main engine for a 50-minute burn, which brought it into orbit around Venus.
The orbit will be refined over the next four weeks to achieve the final operational polar-orbit of 66,000 kilometers. The orbiter will conduct an in-depth observation of the structure, chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus for at least two Venusian days (486 Earth days).
â€œWith the arrival of Venus Express, ESA is the only space agency to have science operations under way around four planets: Venus, the Moon, Mars and Saturnâ€ underlines Professor David Southwood, the Director of ESAâ€™s science programmes. â€œWe are really proud to deliver such a capability to the international science community.â€
The Venus Express mission mainly focusses on studying the peculiar atmosphere of Venus, with a precision never achieved before. In doing so, it will make the first ever use of the so called ‘infrared windows’, which are narrow bands in the atmospheric spectrum, discovered in the 1980s thanks to ground observations. Looking through these ‘windows’ Venus Express will be able to gather precious information about the lower layers of the atmosphere and even the surface. Both Photos, Credits: ESA – AOES Medialab