Thursday, April 21, 2016

Venus is hotter and colder than Earth

The European Space Agency's Venus Express reached the second rock from the sun back in 2006 and spent 8 years exploring the planet from orbit.  It far outlasted its expected life of 500 days, sending back a wealth of data before burning up in the atmosphere.  One of the most surprising finds is the polar regions of Venus are much colder than previously thought.

In a technique known as "aerobraking", the Venus Express used Venus' atmosphere to slow down and take measurements at the same time.  The spacecraft orbited at 130-140 km above the polar regions, which had never been explored before in this manner.  Temperatures in this area are as low as -170° C, colder than anywhere on Earth, while temperatures at the equator are over 850° F.

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