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Venus Express Blasts Off 128

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.
kitzilla writes "The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe has been successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission's first attempt was scrubbed last month after technicians spotted a problem with the lift vehicle. In about five months, Venus Express will pull into orbit around our closest planetary neighbor and begin five months of scheduled observations. On the short list of mission objectives: a detailed mapping of Venus' surface, a survey of the planet's complex atmosphere, and a look into the possibility of active Venusian volcanoes."
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Venus Express Blasts Off

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  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrselfdestrukt (149193) <nollie_A7_firstcounsel_com> on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:36AM (#13987432) Homepage Journal
    And this just after news about how the US is cutting down on NASA's budget and missions like this..
    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      And this just after news about how the US is cutting down on NASA's budget and missions like this..

      The US federal government cut NASA's budget? Do you have a link for this? The only articles [space.com] I've seen indicate an increase in NASA's budget [nasa.gov], virtually one of the only non-defense sectors of the government to see an increase.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You should make sure that you are right before you unleash your sharp tongue. It didn't say "cutting down on NASA's budget ON missions like this" it said "cutting down on NASA's budget AND missions like this." This clearly states that both their budget has been cut and missions of this type have been cut.
        • by FleaPlus (6935)
          cutting down on NASA's budget AND missions like this

          Boolean logic: A & B is only true if A is true and B is true.
    • And this just after news about how the US is cutting down on NASA's budget and missions like this.. ...and at the same time as news that ESA member France can't stop the spread of a massive insurrection in their streets. Priorities wax and wane.
    • I don't want to sound like I'm starting some kind of international ego contest, because both NASA and the ESA are accomplishing quite a bit right now, both NASA and the ESA have had some great cooperation lately, and space is just too darn cool for "I can spit farther than you" type arguments, but I do want to point out that the US does currently have more active missions (and I think considerably more money invested in space research) than the EU. It's not like we're abandoning everything to buy a shiny ne
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:39AM (#13987443)
    ...Google Venus is on the way ??? :-)
  • Watch the launch! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:48AM (#13987476)
    37 megs, quicktime movie. [pax-europa.com]

    The ESA's Venus express portal [esa.int]

    And a load of artist impressions, photos and cgi videos are on ESA's site here [esa.int]

    A great day for the ESA, the data gathered from this and in comparison to that from the Mars Express is really going to give some good information on planetary warming and cooling.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:51AM (#13987483) Journal
    Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society is keeping a running tally of events on the Society's official weblog [planetary.org]. In general, the weblog is a great source of space science news. According to her latest post, Venus Express has already reported back to ground control and is in healthy condition.

    There's also the obligatory Wikipedia article on Venus Express [wikipedia.org], which has a nice description of what the craft will be doing.
  • How come... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squoozer (730327) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @06:56AM (#13987505)

    we can get Government funded missions to map and photograph other planets that place the results in the public domain but we can't get Government funded missions to map and photograph our own planet which put the results in the public domain? It occurs to me that the latter would not only be substantially cheaper to do but also far more useful to the general populous. A multi-national effort to provide such mapping would cost each country peanuts and would provide numerous benifits.

    • TERRARISM!!!1!1!1oneone!

      seriously, I don't disagree with you. I would love to see very very VERY high quality, high detail data of the entire earth. I think it would be incredibly interesting and extremely useful, not only for future generations, but for the current generation as well.

      However, there are always people that will say that because it can be used for EBIL!!! deeds, the information should not be made public.

      Too bad, IMHO. :(

    • Good point. That reminds me of how I felt when I watched the tragic events that happened in New Orleans: How can it take a nation that can fly to the moon and to Venus days and days to get some people out of a wrecked city? There were certainly things with a higher priority...
      • Re:New Orleans... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
        > ...How can it take a nation that can fly to the moon and to Venus days and ...

        What??? What???
        From TFA: "The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe..."

        The "nation that flew to the moon" was the U.S. of the 1960s - the one that invented stuff, the one that manufactured stuff, the one that didn't care about "self-esteem", the one that wasn't morbidly obsessed with not offending anyone, the one that dared, the one whose future was still before it.

      • How can it take a nation that can fly to the moon and to Venus days and days to get some people out of a wrecked city?

        Probably because the moon rocket can only hold 3 people at a time.

      • It's voluntary.

        The people of New Orleans were self-governed. No nation of free citizens could really force New Orleans to have a coherent evacuation plan and a competent municipal government. Only the people of New Orleans could do that, and only by their own choice.

        Sometimes, free peoples choose to go to the moon. Other times, they choose to cross their fingers and hope the storm doesn't hit them.

        Another form of the same answer: Human nature.
    • Re:How come... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meringuoid (568297)
      we can't get Government funded missions to map and photograph our own planet which put the results in the public domain? It occurs to me that the latter would not only be substantially cheaper to do but also far more useful to the general populous.

      The difference here is that there's little commercial use for a high-resolution map of Mars or Venus. Accurate maps of Earth are extremely economically valuable.

      However, although it's not public domain, Google Earth is freely as in gratis.

      • I see why we have got to this position I just think the long term benifits of making this information public domain far out weighs the short term benifits of having it controlled by commercial ventures. It's only a matter of time before a truely free version becomes available anyway I think. I don't know what it is like in the states but over here maps have all but been controlled by HMSO forever. We are just starting to see the first maps that aren't controlled by them appearing. A good thing I think.

        • All documents produced by the US government is public domain. Much of Google Maps and other mapping services are based on public domain NASA and US Geological Survey data. The high-res pictures of the more interesting bits of the US are partly made from commercial aerial photography, though. NASA's World Wind [nasa.gov] application is all government data.

          Unfortunately most of the world's governments are not so enlightened.

    • but wed see the secret death star construction site. thats why they wont.
    • It's called the Ordinance Survey, and is repeated pretty frequently. The organisation responsible is still an arm of the british government (200 years ago it was had the functions our present ministry of defence has).

      It funds itself by selling the maps it produces - IE, although a part of the government, it operates as a sulf-sufficient business - and that in turn means that only the people who need it are paying for it, as opposed to all of us paying a tax on it.
      Works pretty well.
    • If _the_ General Populous wants maps for his invasion plan he can pay for them himself.

      Of course, it's possible you meant populace...
    • Politics, my naive but well meaning friend. No country wants pictures of its top secret places free for the world to see. Look at the whole google-spotting fun going on already with people posting up pics of bomber bases, submarines, warships etc. Lots of countries really don't want you to know where they keep their tanks, or that they've sneakily pushed up their advanced forces into somebody else's disputed territory.

      Lots of farmers in Europe got caught out a few years ago when the satellite images proved
    • The raw data of any satellite, if published, is in the public domain.

      For anything to be copyrighted, it needs to be an original creation, which assumes a) a creator, who b) used his/her own experiences/choice/knowledge/skills in creating the work.

      Both conditions fail with satellite imagery, as there is no creator (the pictures are taken by an autonomous, non-sentient machine), and the intention of the picture-taking is to create an accurate image rather than an interpretation.

      If you somehow managed to inter
      • > Both conditions fail with satellite imagery, as there is no creator

        But the Earth was created by God !!!

        Or at least that's what I learnt in my Kansas school...
      • Nice interpretation of copyright law. If it's all the same I'll wait for someone else to test that interpretation first though. I somehow think that you might find not everyone agrees with you.

        IANAL either but I am pretty sure using a machine such as this way to create a work doesn't cause it to fall outside of copyright law. I suppose you could argue that it is similar to a random text generator but that's pushing it a bit.

      • If you somehow managed to intercept data sent down from a satellite, you should be able to do anything you want with it, at least according to (US) copyright law; you may be breaking other laws that I do not know about, though.

        Suppose the satellite was ROT13ing its transmissions though. Would the DMCA kick in? (Or could you just say they were being transmitted with an alternate code page [wikipedia.org], which you figured out?)

  • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:11AM (#13987553)
    I'm not a NASA fan. I see the ISS as not doing much science, recent Mars "search for signs of life" missions as a combination PR stunt and the space equivalent of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost because that's where it's light. And abandoning Hubble? Don't even get me started.

    So it's great to see a space mission that combines engineering with real science and that isn't just predicated on the public's gullibility as to the long odds of ET life.

    I know that the /. 'love all things space' crowd will mod me down, but I've got Karma to burn.

    • I see ... recent Mars "search for signs of life" missions as a combination PR stunt and the space equivalent of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost because that's where it's light

      I think that's a little unfair. We know for a fact that Earth is completely infested with life. Everywhere on Earth that life could imaginably exist, it is found, and also in some places where we never imagined we would find it at all. Deep underground in solid rock, in the furthest Antarctic, in the driest deserts,

    • Ironically, I agree with you in principle, but I think you're a little too harsh. Yes, NASA is practically a caricature of the classic "bloatware" of entrenched government monopoly. HOWEVER, let's make it absolutely clear:
      - ISS is the result of POLITICS, not NASA plans. NASA has gone along with the ISS (and shown proper enthusiasm for) the ISS for budgetary and political reasons, not because they are crusading for a vision of space exploration based on the ISS.
      - The constant carping about shutting down t
    • "...recent Mars "search for signs of life" missions as a combination PR stunt and the space equivalent of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost ..."

      The fact that you think NASAs "recent Mars signs of life missions" are a worthless PR stunt merely belies your embarrasing ignorance of what NASA missions actually do. NASA hasn't flown a mission to Mars expressly looking for life in 30 YEARS! (the viking missions). Recent missions like the Rovers were only sent to look for evidence of past water whi
  • by slashmojo (818930)
    You can also keep up to date on space/nasa/esa etc news here..

    http://space.boardtracker.com [boardtracker.com]

  • I have no doubt... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Biomechanical (829805) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:43AM (#13987663) Homepage

    That there will be active volcanos on Venus, if only for the simple fact that it's apparently close enough to the Sun to be "as hot as hell", but not quite close enough to be baked to a cinder like Mercury, plus there was some interesting things observed when we last sent a probe - even with lens-cap problem.

    teewurstmann does raise an interesting question - "Why are we looking for active volcanos on Venus?"

    The answers "Because we can." or "It'll lead to great jumps in science." would not suffice with your average Joe Bloggs though, and if we wish to increase our ventures into space, or even just continue with space exploration altogether, then we're going to need a "hook", or a goal that we can present to the public in a unified answer that satisfies their curiosity and is not an outright lie - although a little white lie like, for example "We hope to discover a significant mineral deposit on the moon which will facilitate longer journeys into space." or "By studying the metals and minerals on Mercury we can discover how to create stronger, more tolerable materials on Earth which will create better housing, stronger and lighter cars..." etc.

    Come up with a Grand Idea if you like - "We're going to save mankind."

    Now seriously, who wouldn't think that saving our species is a noble goal? We don't have to tell the public "from ourselves", we'll just keep'em guessing - the continual doses of paranoia we're getting from our governments aren't doing too much harm, so we'll use a little "poetic licence".

    Why are we looking for volcanos on Venus? Why not? Why not start at Mercury, or Venus, or Mars, or anywhere else in our solar system and look at it like one of those colour tests a few of us must have done in chemistry in high school.

    Oh look, Mercury is mainly this colour, which means it's made mostly of this mineral... Venus is very acidic, and has all sorts of interesting liquid metals at venusian "room" temperature... Mars seems to have water, or the evidence of water...

    We study, and learn, and find out how our solar system is constructed, and then one day, maybe if we don't destroy ourselves beforehand, we use the models we've made from this gathering of knowledge and we create plans.

    We plan which solar systems nearby would be likely to have a sufficiently earth-like blue-green planet. We plan where we could find in our galaxy various minerals, fuels, and other resources needed to build, maintain, and power our ships as we go searching for other life, and other worlds. We plan to spread out, to colonise the most idyllic locations, and make sure that our species survives through sheer weight of numbers. We plan to live, to explore, to discover, to learn, to expand our minds and evolve.

    We've been sitting on this little blue-green marble for a long time now, long enough to nurture the maths, physics, chemistry, and biological sciences enough to show us how to get up and explore the rest of our solar system. Now we need to use that knowledge and help ourselves before a meteor, asteroid, or sheer stupidity kills us.

    Why explore the solar system? Why pick over rocks on Venus?

    Because these are our baby steps, our first tentative journeys into space, the beginning of what I, and I'd hope many of you too, would dearly wish to be the start of our much greater journey into the galaxy.

    Mistakes will be made, and lives will, as they have, be lost, but those people, our first space explorers, did not die in vain. We already have gained much knowledge, and it may not be used to any large extent now, but it will prove to be invaluable in the future.

    I only hope that politics, greed, apathy, and stupidity don't condemn us to live our final days here, stuck on a world we could so easily leave if we simply worked at it.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @07:58AM (#13987720) Homepage Journal
      Why are we looking for volcanos on Venus?

      Because we like to look for potential habitats for life elsewhere in the solar system. And a volcanic vent could easily be the coolest and most hospitable location on the surface of Venus, particularly if the volcano is venting some water.

      • And a volcanic vent could easily be the coolest and most hospitable location on the surface of Venus, particularly if the volcano is venting some water.

        I'm pretty sure that liquid water is impossible on a planet whose temperature is hot enough to melt lead. Water vapor isn't very useful for life. Aside from that, the atmospheric pressure, not to mention the sulfur/acidic environment, is quite inhospitable to life. An organic molecule would fall to pieces under such conditions.

    • The thing I want to see is footage of a slab of the crust dropping.

      There is some speculation that the lava covered plains maybe due to the core of Venus cooling and shrinking enough that slabs of teh crust essentially can longer be supported and break free and "drop" into the mantle.

      Result huge lava wash.

      This may be in our planets future too.
    • That there will be active volcanos on Venus, if only for the simple fact that it's apparently close enough to the Sun to be "as hot as hell", but not quite close enough to be baked to a cinder like Mercury, plus there was some interesting things observed when we last sent a probe - even with lens-cap problem.

      Venus average surface temperature is higher than Mercury. Mercury is not backed like a cinder. It is composed of basaltic silicates, iron and nickel, refractory oxides. These materials have a very h

    • Nice posting!

      That there will be active volcanos on Venus, if only for the simple fact that it's apparently close enough to the Sun to be "as hot as hell", but not quite close enough to be baked to a cinder like Mercury, plus there was some interesting things observed when we last sent a probe - even with lens-cap problem.

      Active vulcanism has still not certainly been observed on Venus. Variations in sulphur dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were observed by Soviet spacecraft, but these have neve

    • [Venus is] apparently close enough to the Sun to be "as hot as hell"
      That's not what chiefly makes it hot as hell. It's the crushing blanket of an atmosphere that's mostly carbon dioxide. Venus is a runaway greenhouse.
  • it's venerian...venerean
    • kinda... whilst venerean/venereal should (probably) be the proper words for describing venus and it's hypothetical inhabitants those words have fallen out of favour due to their connotations. "Venusian" seems to be be the commonly adopted replacement.
    • Re:It's not venusian (Score:3, Informative)

      by geobeck (924637)

      Actually, it's cytherian.

      Mercury - mercurian
      Venus - cytherian (or venerean)
      Earth - terran
      Mars - martian
      Jupiter - jovian
      Saturn - saturnian
      Uranus - uranian
      Neptune - neptunian
      Pluto - "Here, boy!"

      • Venus - cytherian (or venerean)

        I think "venereal" is what sounds the best. After all, men are from mars, cheap hookers are from venus...

      • Arthur C. Clarke, in a footnote his 1968 book "The Conquest of Space," said venusian sounded good but was wrong, venerian raised false hopes, and cytherian was correct but only classics scholars knew what it meant.
      • The term, "martian" is one they find offensive and will not answer to. They are the Zhti Ti Kofft. [uncoveror.com] If the other planets have life on them, I doubt that they accept the names terrans made up for them either.
  • Outlast (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Barkley44 (919010)
    Wonder if it will outlast it's planned life, like the mars rover.
  • Deja Vu (Score:2, Funny)

    by ZB Mowrey (756269)
    I guess as long as they're not planning to have the satellite return to Earth, it's all good. Remember, this is how Night of the Living Dead [imdb.com] all started.
  • by aggressor-on (922876) on Wednesday November 09, 2005 @09:25AM (#13988113)
    Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus... Its just an excuse to check out some hot Women!
  • If no women are found on Venus, the mission is a total failure.
  • ... there is no blast.
  • still cloudy...

    pause

    still cloudy...

    pause...

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