Adam writes: Since the atmosphere is not as dense as was feared, we are planning a small manoeuvre next week to further lower the pericentre altitude by between 2 and 3 km.
This combined with the natural drift down of ~1km, means VEX will be making passes as low as 134 or even 133km next week! Wow!
The long-anticipated aerobraking campaign starts today, with Venus Express set to make its closest (lowest) approach to the fiery-hot planet’s surface at just about 136 km! Adam Williams, Deputy Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESOC, sent in this quick update – Ed.
The walk-in phase finishes today, and we are officially starting the aerobraking phase. Current pericentre altitude is around 136km, and we will drop naturally about 1km over the next week after which the pericentre altitude remains nominally constant [at about 135 km] to the end of aerobraking on 11 July.