Venus Express Orbiting Venus
This is an illustration of the Venus Express spacecraft orbiting the Hothouse Planet.
On the morning of April 11, 2006 at the end of a 153-day and 400-million km cruise into the inner Solar System beginning with its launch on November 9, 2005, ESA's Venus Express space probe fired its main engine at 09:17 CEST for a 50-minute burn, which brought it into orbit around Venus.
The mission of Venus Express will be to carry out a detailed characterisation of this atmosphere, using state-of-the-art sensors in order to answer the questions and solve the mysteries left behind by the first wave of explorers. It will also be the first Venus orbiter to conduct optical observations of the surface through 'visibility windows' discovered in the infrared spectrum.