6 Novem­ber 2006

Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN -

On 6 Novem­ber 2006, The Sky at

Night cov­ered the work be­ing done by the Venus Ex­press space­craft, which had ar­rived at the sec­ond planet from the Sun in April that year. The world had long in­trigued as­tronomers, as its thick clouds shroud the planet from view. In the episode, Pa­trick Moore re­marked how he and many oth­ers used to be­lieve that be­neath the clouds lay a ver­dant world. Though the So­viet Ven­era pro­gramme which ran from 1961 to 1984 dis­pelled this no­tion, in 2006 the planet still held many mys­ter­ies.

In Novem­ber 2005, the Euro­pean Space Agency launched Venus Ex­press. On ar­rival, it used radar to pierce through the clouds, find­ing ev­i­dence of re­cent vol­can­ism on the planet’s sur­face. The probe’s other in­stru­ments ex­am­ined the Venu­sian at­mos­phere, help­ing sci­en­tists gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how plan­e­tary at­mos­pheres work not just on Venus, but on other plan­ets too, in­clud­ing Earth.

The Venus Ex­press re­vealed how volatile the at­mos­phere of Venus is

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