Illustration Credit & Copyright: European Space Agency (ESA).
Launched on November 9, 2005 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Site 31/6 in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz-FG/Fregat rocket, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express set off on a two year mission to study Venus and all she has to offer. 8 years later, all contact has been lost as of November 28 and again briefly on December 3, 2014 with the mission declared over on December 16, 2014. The likely cause of death is fuel depletion and subsequent incineration in the Venusian atmosphere.
Equipped with seven scientific instruments designed to pull back the veil that shrouds our sister planet, Venus Express entered into orbit on April 11, 2006 (153 days after launch) where it almost immediately began sending back never before seen data to Earth which it had been doing right up until the end. From mid-2014 on, ESA had known that the spacecraft was nearing the end of its fuel supply so it began making some daring aerobraking moves in hopes of gleaning new data that they didn’t dare attempt with a fully functioning spacecraft with a long future ahead of it. Read more about that story here: https://danspace77.com/2014/07/16/daredevil-venus-express-survives-its-risky-maneuver/
In the end it was yet another shining performance by ESA and the Venus Express team. The data gathered will be searched over for some time to come I’m already looking forward to the next Venus mission; which is hopefully (in my opinion) a lander of some sort. So whoever plans the next Venus mission….lander please!
ESA Venus Express page: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Venus_Express
Science at ESA, Venus Express: http://sci.esa.int/venus-express/
ESA Blogs, Venus Express: http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/?s=venus+express
NASA Venus Express page: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Venus_Express
Venus Express Fact Sheet: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Venus_Express/Venus_Express_factsheet2
ESA Venus Express image gallery: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Missions/Venus_Express/(class)/image
ESA Science, Venus Express image gallery: http://sci.esa.int/venus-express/31141-images-and-videos/?farchive_objecttypeid=18,19,22&farchive_objectid=30912
Planetary Society Bruce Murray image gallery from Venus Express: http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/space-images/venus/?keywords=venus-express