A short update from the VEX flight team at ESOC today on progress of the aerobraking campaign. The quick news: it’s going very well!
The 25th aerobraking orbit (Number 2975 in the mission overall) was completed earlier today; on 11 June, during orbit 2973, the spacecraft dipped down to almost 140 km above the Venusian surface – an unprecedented low altitude.
Between 3 and 11 June, atmospheric drag slowed Venus Express by a steadily increasing amount, beginning with about -16 mm/second per orbit, increasing in magnitude to about -82 mm/second per orbit. Nonetheless, the atmosphere is providing somewhat less drag on the spacecraft than expected.
On board Venus express, everything is functioning as expected and within limits: power, propulsion, communications, temperatures of spacecraft components, & etc.
“Our spacecraft is functioning well and the team are learning new things every day as the aerobraking campaign progresses,” says Acting Spacecraft Operations Manager Adam Williams.
During the campaign, both the magnetometer and the ASPERA payloads are operating, and we’ll have a blog update for your soon providing details on science during aerobraking.