This striking combo image of Venus’ dynamic south pole was released today by the European Space Agency on the tenth anniversary of its Venus Express mission. It’a mess.
The Venus Express spacecraft was declared scientifically dead in December when, finally out of propellent, it decayed into an uncontrolled spin. After a few accidental communications when pure luck pointed its antenna at Earth, it let out one last bleat of full-volume noise.
There's a mass of swirling gas and cloud located some 37 miles (60 km) above Venus's south pole. This image was captured by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) aboard ESA's Venus Express spacecraft.
Goodbye, Venus Express. You were a lovely satellite, and lasted far longer than we had any right to expect. With propellant totally exhausted and on a decaying orbit, the spacecraft is presumed dead, burnt, crushed, and mangled by the hostile environment of Venus.
The Venus Express spacecraft has completed its 3,000 th orbit of the tempestuous planet, dived into the atmosphere, is on its way back out, and is somehow still transmitting. Not bad for a probe designed to last a measly 500 orbits!
Early this morning, an object that was most likely a small asteroid zoomed past Earth, narrowly missing a collision course. Now a European astronomer says it's possible that this object could be part of the ESA's Venus probe.
If the 800-degree heat or crushing atmospheric pressure doesn't get you, you might want to watch out for spewing plumes of sulfur dioxide and liquid lava flows on your next visit to Venus. We've long known that our neighboring planet has lots of volcanoes, but no one is sure if any of them are currently active. It's…