DailyTech – ESA's Venus Express Beams Back Evidence of a Wet Past
Venus may have looked like Earth, just not for very long.
After a November 2005 launch, the European Space Agency’s scientific satellite, Venus Express, reached the planet in April of the following year and settled into its working orbit shortly after in May. Since then, the orbiter has been beaming back many kinds of data about the cloud-covered planet, enabling researchers to better understand its lifecycle and past.
Venus Express left Earth with seven instruments bent on unmasking Venus and revealing to us her secrets. All seven instruments were derived from the previous projects Mars Express and Rosette. ASPERA-4 analyses neutral and ionized plasma; MAG takes magnetic field measurements; PFS uses infrared Fourier spectroscopy to take vertical pictures of the atmosphere; SPICAV also uses spectroscopy to measure atmospheric content by using sun or starlight occultation; VeRa uses radio sounding to measure atmosphere; VIRTIS maps the atmosphere and surface of the planet via spectography; and VMC images in ultraviolet and visible light ranges.