Cutaway diagram showing size and location of instruments

Venus Express orbiter instruments

  • ASPERA (Analyser of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms)
  • MAG (Venus Express Magnetometer)
  • PFS (Planetary Fourier Spectrometer)
  • SPICAV/SOIR (Ultraviolet and Infrared Atmospheric Spectrometer)
  • VeRa (Venus Radio Science Experiment)
  • VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer)
  • VMC (Venus Monitoring Camera)

Analyser of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA)

Led by Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden

ASPERA will investigate the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere of Venus by measuring outflowing particles from the planet’s atmosphere and the particles making up the solar wind. It will study how the molecules and ions escape the planet.

Heritage: Mars Express

Venus Express Magnetometer (MAG)

Led by IWF, Graz, Austria

Venus has no detectable internal magnetic field, and the field that exists around the planet is entirely due to the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere. The MAG magnetometer will study this process and will help in understanding the effect this has on Venus’s atmosphere, for instance the atmospheric escape process.

Heritage: Newly developed for Venus Express (but reusing sensors design from the Rosetta lander)

Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS)

Led by IFSI-INAF, Rome, Italy

PFS will be able to measure the temperature of the atmosphere between altitudes of 55–100 kilometres at a very high resolution. It will also be able to measure the surface temperature and therefore be able to search for volcanic activity. In addition to its temperature measurements, PFS will be able to make composition measurements of the atmosphere.

Heritage: Mars Express

Ultraviolet and Infrared Atmospheric Spectrometer (SPICAV/SOIR)

Led by Service d’Aeronomie du CNRS, Verriesres, France; Institute for Space Aeronomy, Belgium; IKI, Russia

SPICAV assists in the analysis of Venus’s atmosphere. In particular, it will search for the small quantities of water expected to exist in the Venusian atmosphere. It will also look for sulphur compounds and molecular oxygen in the atmosphere. It will determine the density and temperature of the atmosphere at 80–180 kilometres altitude.

Heritage: SPICAV inherited from Mars Express, new development for SOIR

Venus Radio Science Experiment (VeRa)

Led by Univ. der Bunderswehr, Munich, Germany

VeRa uses the powerful radio link between the spacecraft and Earth to investigate the conditions prevalent in the ionosphere of Venus. Scientists will also use it to study the density, temperature, and pressure of the atmosphere from 35–40 km up to 100 km from the surface, and to determine roughness and electrical properties of the surface. It will also allow investigations of the conditions of the solar wind in the inner part of the Solar System.

Heritage: Rosetta

Ultraviolet/Visible/Near-Infrared mapping spectrometer (VIRTIS)

Led by CNR-IASF, Rome, Italy, and Observatoire de Paris, France

VIRTIS will be able to study the composition of the lower atmosphere between 40 kilometres altitude and the surface. It will track the clouds in both ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths and allow scientists to study atmospheric dynamics at different altitudes.

Heritage: Rosetta

Venus Monitoring Camera

Led by MPS, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany

VMC is a wide-angle multi-channel camera that will be able to take images of the planet in the near infrared, ultraviolet and visible wavelengths. VMC will be able to make global images and will study the cloud dynamics and image the surface. In addition it will assist in the identification of phenomena seen by other instruments.

Heritage: Newly developed for Venus Express (reusing parts of Mars Express’s High Resolution Stereo Camera)

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