Venus Express

28 November, 2007

Venus Express Mission Results
Venus Express has been making the most detailed study of the planet’s thick and complex atmosphere to date. The latest findings highlight the features that make Venus unique in the Solar System and provide fresh clues as to how the planet is - despite everything - a more Earth-like planetary neighbour than one could have imagined.


Venus: Earth’s twin planet?
ESA’s Venus Express has revealed Venus as never before. For the first time, scientists are able to investigate from the top of its atmosphere, down nearly to the surface. They have shown it to be a planet of surprises that may once have been more Earth-like, and still is, to a certain extent.

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The unexpected temperature profile of Venus’s atmosphere
Venus has a rich and complicated atmosphere - the densest of all the rocky planets – that is the key to understanding the planet itself. Venus Express, designed to perform an extensive investigation of the atmosphere, has revealed surprising details about its temperature structure.

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Caught in the wind from the Sun
Venus Express has exposed the true extent to which the Sun strips away the atmosphere of Venus. This process could be an important contribution to the way the planet has evolved to become so different from the Earth.

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Climate and Evolution
Today, Venus is a hellish place of high temperatures and crushing air pressure. Venus Express is showing that this was not always the case. Instead, some time in the past, Venus was probably much more Earth-like and contained large quantities of water.

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New scientific riches from Integral

07 November, 2007

Astronomers from around the world have been discussing the extraordinary scientific riches that have flowed from ESA’s orbiting gamma-ray observatory, Integral. Here we present the gist of some of the astonishing ones.


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Setting stars reveal planetary secrets

05 November, 2007

Watching the stars set from the surface of the Earth may be a romantic pastime but when a spacecraft does it from orbit, it can reveal hidden details about a planet’s atmosphere.

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Mars Express probes the Red Planet’s most unusual deposits

01 November, 2007

The radar system on ESA’s Mars Express has uncovered new details about some of the most mysterious deposits on Mars: The Medusae Fossae Formation. It has given the first direct measurement of the depth and electrical properties of these materials, providing new clues about their origin.


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The trouble with supernovae

25 October, 2007

New Scientist issue 2627

“IN NOVEMBER 1572, a dazzling new star appeared in the night sky. It became so bright so quickly that it soon outshone everything except the sun and the moon and could even be seen in daylight.


Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe tracked the star for 16 months. As it slowly faded, the star changed colour from white to yellow then orange and finally faint red.


We now know that what Brahe saw was probably a type Ia supernova, a species of exploding star that, over the past 30 years, has become increasingly important in astrophysics. Because they are all thought to explode with the same brightness, type Ia supernovae are used as "standard candles" to gauge distances across the universe.


But type Ia supernovae are beset with problems. It has become clear that they do not all explode with the same brightness. What's more, though astronomers were once sure they knew...”


The complete article is 1415 words long and is available here
(a subscription is required).

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Chang'e-1 - new mission to Moon lifts off

24 October, 2007

The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) launched a bold new mission to the Moon today. Chang’e-1 blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, Sichuan, atop a Long March 3A rocket.  Chang’e-1 represents the first step in the Chinese ambition to land robotic explorers on the Moon before 2020.


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