Venus Express (ASPERA-4)

The European Space Agency (ESA) sent the first European space probe to Venus on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on 9 November 2005.

Illustration: ESA–C. Carreau

After a five-month journey, the space probe went into orbit around Venus on 11 April 2006 and began studying the thick atmosphere and the plasma around the planet.

IRF has the main responsibility for the ASPERA-4 instrument (Analyzes of Space Plasma and EneRgetic Atoms) which has studied the plasma properties round Venus in detail, as well as neutral atoms that escape into space from the atmosphere.

ASPERA-4 (an instrument for analysing energetic neutral atoms, ENA, and plasma particles) consists of four different sensors. By analysing ENA, the instrument contributes to knowledge about the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere of Venus. Venus Express ran out of fuel and completed its exploration of Venus towards the end of 2014.

For more information: Dr Yoshifumi Futaana, Project Manager,

Picture caption:

Visualisation of Venus Express entering the Venusian atmosphere. Image: ESA/C. Carreau.