Interest (Excitement!) is mounting in the Venus Express Dedicated Control Room at ESOC, as the mission control team await Venus Express’ first pericentre crossing in aerobraking mode, scheduled for around 04:00 CEST on 20 May (Tuesday) morning.

“The commands were already loaded on board the spacecraft before the weekend, and all the team can do now is wait for a signal from the spacecraft early Tuesday morning. Acquisition of signal is expected around 06:15 CEST,” says deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager Adam Williams.

“Only then will the team find out exactly how well the batteries have coped with being without Sun for 2 hours during the pericentre crossing.”

In the meantime, planning for the following three pericentre crossings has started, with the commands to be uplinked to the spacecraft during Tuesday’s communication pass.