Headlines > News > Second from the Sun: European Probe Enters Venus Orbit

Second from the Sun: European Probe Enters Venus Orbit

Published by Ekkehard on Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:24 am
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Second from the Sun: European Probe Enters Venus Orbit
By Peter B. de Selding
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 11 April 2006
5:11 a.m. ET

DARMSTADT, Germany — Europe’s Venus Express slowed itself down to permit entry into Venus orbit early Tuesday, and in the coming weeks will prepare a 16-month mission to study a planet on which the greenhouse effect has gone to hellish extremes.

Launched in November, the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite fired its main engine today for a 50-minute braking maneuver to allow itself to be captured by the gravitational pull of Venus.

Venus Express managers at ESA’s mission control center here had loaded the engine-firing commands to the satellite several days before, and had little more to do than watch their screens and hope the sequence went as planned.

It did. Using large ground antennas located in Australia and Spain, ground teams confirmed that the engine firing was a success. With the satellite 74 million miles (120 million kilometers) from Earth, it took seven minutes for the satellite’s signal to reach ground teams, creating some tense moments here as the science and mission teams waited for the satellite’s signal. Read the rest of this entry

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