Venus Probe Mission Approved by Steering Committee for Space Science
17 Aug 2001
(Source: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science)
Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan
Though often referred to as Earth's sister planet in terms of size and mass, Venus is now a totally different planet from Earth. Its temperature is high at 470?C and atmospheric pressure at 100, and besides it has the characteristic atmosphere revolving at a very high speed (super rotation) and thick sulfuric acid clouds. Wrapping itself in an aura of mystery, Venus twinkles in the sky enticingly. At the Steering Committee for Space Science meeting held on May 10, the Venus probe mission was approved as an official ISAS project.
The main purpose of this probe is to elucidate the mystery of the Venusian atmospheric super rotation. To achieve this end, the flow of clouds will be photographed by several cameras onboard the Venus orbiter, which can be called the Venusian version of the weather satellite Himawari. The scorching temperatures of the Venusian atmosphere composed mainly of carbon dioxide will also be measured.
As byproducts of the probe, the presence of active volcanoes and thunder will be made clear. We are also planning to conduct detailed investigations into the atmosphere escaping from Venus utilizing onboard instruments other than cameras.
The sounding rocket with the weight of 650kg (fuel weight of 320kg included) is scheduled to be launched in February 2007, and after a swing-by around the Earth in June 2008, it will fly to Venus. After its arrival at Venus in September 2009, we expect to be able to send pictures of Venus' moving clouds to your TV.
At present, over seven probe missions to Venus are under consideration throughout the world. When they are realized, complementary researches shall be conducted exchanging data between foreign and Japanese spacecraft. We expect to take the leadership in this area using our advanced knowledge in Atmospheric Dynamics as leverage.
In order to be fully equipped to start this mission next year, we first have to have our budget approved by the government as well as to promote publicity in order to gain public support and understanding in Space Science centering on the Venus probe mission. In October this year, an international Venus workshop funded by the International Symposium Fund of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will be held at ISAS inviting domestic and overseas Venus researchers.