Morning Star, We Hardly Knew Ya: Venus Express’ Best Discoveries In 8 Years
Venus Express is mostly dead. The spacecraft spent more than eight years faithfully relaying information from the Morning Star/Evening Star planet, but it’s now out of fuel, out of control and within weeks of burning up in the atmosphere.
While we mourn the end of the productive mission, the European Space Agency spacecraft showed us a lot about the planet that we once considered a twin to Earth. Some of the surprises, as you can see below, including a possibly slowing-down rotation, and the realization that volcanoes may still be active on the hellish planet.
Quick video summary: Venus Express found that the spacecraft’s rotation may have slowed down by 6.5 minutes between 1996 (when the Magellan spacecraft was in orbit) and 2012. The surprising information emerged when scientists discovered surface features weren’t in the expected areas, and couldn’t find any calculation errors between the data.
Quick video summary: Volcanic flows may still be active on Venus’ surface, according to 2010 data from the mission. Scientists looked at surface areas that had not been “weathered” very much (indicating that they are relatively young) and detected at least nine spots where the heat in those zones is much higher than the areas around it.