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February 22, 2014

Researchers survey planet-sized space weather explosions at Venus

Researchers survey planet-sized space weather explosions at Venus

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Space scientists located on three continents have published a survey of hot flow anomalies (HFAs) observed at the bow shock of Venus, in Journal of Geophysical Research on Tuesday. HFAs, discontinuities in the solar wind, were found to have much larger repercussions for Venus than for Earth.

While the common HFA space weather phenomenon is deflected by the Earth’s magnetosphere, Venus does not have such a reliable protection against the constant solar wind. Venus’s ionosphere is generally in a sensitive balance with the outside pressure from the solar wind, and is regularly disrupted by the anomalies.

The survey was conducted using data collected during roughly three Venusian days (about two Earth years) by the European Space Agency’s Venus Express, expanding on an initial case study of a HFA at Venus published in 2012. “Not only are they gigantic,” said Glyn Collinson of NASA, the first author of the papers published in 2012 and 2014, “[b]ut as Venus doesn’t have a magnetic field to protect itself, the hot flow anomalies happen right on top of the planet. They could swallow the planet whole.” Seven events were observed during the surveyed time.



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November 29, 2007

Venus was once more Earth-like than previously thought

Filed under: Archived,Environment,Europe,Science and technology,Space,Venus — admin @ 5:00 am

Venus was once more Earth-like than previously thought

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Artist’s impression of Venus Express orbiting Venus. Image credit: ESA.

New data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission suggest that Venus was once Earth-like but later evolved in a different way. The findings, published in the journal Nature on Thursday, also confirm that there is lightning on Venus.

“The two planets were, in fact, very similar in the earlier days of the solar system,” said Venus Express team scientist Hakan Svendem, “And they have then evolved in different directions, but according to the same rules and explanations.” Professor Fred Taylor of the University of Oxford, another scientist on the mission, said “Our new data make it possible to construct a scenario in which Venus started out like the Earth – possibly including a habitable environment, billions of years ago – and then evolved to the state we see now.”

Unlike the Earth, Venus lacks a magnetic shield to protect it from the solar wind, a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun. As a result, hydrogen, helium, and oxygen are blown away from the atmosphere on Venus much faster than on Earth. The scientists believe that Venus may once have had liquid water oceans on its surface which, as a result of the solar wind, were largely removed during the first billion years after the formation of the Solar System. “Eventually the oceans boiled off, and all the water ended up as water vapor in the atmosphere,” Svedhem said.

Data from the magnetometer instrument on Venus Express confirm that there is lightning on Venus, a once controversial idea. In fact, the findings suggest that lightning is more common on Venus than on Earth.

Unlike the Earth, Venus has undergone runaway greenhouse warming and now has an average surface temperature of 467 degrees Celsius. Some believe that studying how this change came about could lead to insights into how to prevent undesired climate change on Earth. “Understanding the influencing factors of global warming on Venus could help us in mitigating the threat here on Earth,” said United Kingdom Minister for Science and Innovation Ian Pearson.



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November 9, 2005

European Venus probe launched successfully

European Venus probe launched successfully

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Wednesday, November 9, 2005 European Space Agency’s probe to Venus was successfully launched on Wednesday, November 9, at 0333 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The probe, entitled Venus Express, separated from its Soyuz Fregat carrier 90 minutes after the launch, after which it emitted a signal marking the start of its journey to Earth’s closest planetary neighbour.

Venus Express is to arrive at Venus in April 2006. The probe will spend at least 15 months—two Venusian days—studying the planet. The orbiter, however, has enough fuel to operate for 1000 Earth days.

The 220 million € (260 million US$) probe is set to examine the turbulent atmosphere and intense greenhouse effect of Venus. The probe will study the planet’s temperature variation, cloud formations, wind speeds and gas composition. It is hoped that the results will help scientists understand Earth’s global warming better. Venus express is a clone of Mars Express which has been orbiting Mars since December 2003.

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