Braking Test Ends in a Sea of Flames
Over a period of 9 years, Venus Express carries out a thorough investigation of Venus, before burning up in the atmosphere.
Equipped with brand new instruments such as magnetometers, spectrometers, etc., ESA's Venus Express probe is launched from Earth on 9 November 2005, heading for Venus, to study climate, cloud cover, and the chemistry of the atmosphere.
The probe discovers an atmosphere that contains water – in spite of a temperature of 465 °C on the planet’s surface. The water molecules are shattered by UV radiation and blow into space. Based on data from the probe, astronomers calculate that Venus was probably covered in water 3 billion years ago and might have included life.
Last, the probe dives to an altitude of 130 km in 2015 to test slowing itself down by skating across the atmosphere. VenusExpress is lost in the manoeuvre.