Introduction to the special section on Venus Express: Results of the Nominal Mission
Publication date: 17 December 2008
Authors: Titov, D.V., et al.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research
Copyright: American Geophysical Union.
More than 25 spacecraft from the United States and the Soviet Union visited Venus in the 20th century, but in spite of the many successful measurements they made, a great number of fundamental problems in the physics of the planet remained unsolved [Taylor, 2006; Titov et al., 2006]. In particular, a systematic and long-term survey of the atmosphere was missing, and most aspects of atmospheric behavior remained puzzling. After the Magellan radar mapping mission ended in 1994, there followed a hiatus of more than a decade in Venus research, until the European Space Agency took up the challenge and sent its own spacecraft to our planetary neighbor. The goal of this mission, Venus Express, is to carry out a global, long-term remote and in situ investigation of the atmosphere, the plasma environment, and some aspects of the surface of Venus from orbit [Titov et al., 2001; Svedhem et al., 2007].
Venus Express continues and extends the investigations of earlier missions by providing detailed monitoring of processes and phenomena in the atmosphere and near-space environment of Venus. Radio, solar, and stellar occultation, together with thermal emission spectroscopy, sound the atmospheric structure in the altitude range from 150 to 40 km with vertical resolution of few hundred meters, revealing strong temperature variations driven by radiation and dynamical processes.
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