Venus is the Earth's nearest neighbour, and it is Earth's twin in terms of size and mass. However, the temperature on the surface of Venus is around 460ºC, and the atmosphere is a noxious mixture of carbon dioxide and acids such as sulphuric acid. Whilst the year lasts 224.7 Earth days, the day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days. In the upper atmosphere, the hurricane-force winds sweep round the planet in four Earth days.
Venus Express was ESA's (link opens in a new window) first mission to Venus and was launched on 9th November 2005. The satellite is based on the Mars Express design, and instruments on Venus Express have a heritage from both Mars Express and Rosetta. The main aim of the Venus Express mission was to study the atmosphere of Venus; its global characteristics, its interacteraction with the surface and with the solar wind. RAL Space were involved in the ASPERA-4 instrument on board the spacecraft.
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