Aerobraking update

Venus Express completed the 38th aerobraking orbit on 25 June with pericentre passage expected to have occurred at 21:37:04z; the spacecraft was in braking mode between 19:59:05z and 21:54:05z. The predicted pericentre height was 132.7 km (the figures are being confirmed by flight dynamics teams at ESOC).

A second pericentre-lowering manoeuvre will be performed at apocentre (point of furthest distance from the Venus surface) in orbit 2991, occurring on Saturday, 28 June, aiming to bring the craft even lower into the atmosphere and target a dynamic pressure of 0.55 N/m2.

To date, the drag exerted by the atmosphere on the spacecraft has reduced its orbital period by about 20 mins, so aerobraking is having a real effect!

The mission control team and scientists are following progress closely, and will analyse the actual dynamic pressures experienced by VEX to determine if a further pericentre-lowering manoeuvre will be necessary.

VEX pericentre height evolution

The plot shows the evolution of the predicted and actual pericentre height since
the start of the aerobraking phase. The data for the actual pericentre height is available
up to and including pericentre number 2983. This plot does not take into account the
lowering manoeuvre planned for day 179.

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