Venus Express Spacecraft, Low On Fuel, Does Delicate Dance Above Doom Below
Artist’s impression of Venus Express performing aerobreaking maneuvers in the planet’s atmosphere in June and July 2014. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau
It’s been an interesting year for Venus Express. A few months ago, controllers deliberately dipped the spacecraft into the atmosphere of the planet — for science purposes, of course. The daring maneuver was approved because the spacecraft is near the end of its mission. It’s nearly out of fuel and will fall into Venus — sometime. Likely in 2015. No one knows exactly when, however.
Until Dec. 30, European Space Agency operators are going to boost the spacecraft’s orbit to try to get a little more productivity out of it. After that, all depends on what gas is left in the tank.
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