Venus Express: Final orbit manoeuvre complete

This note sent in by Jörg Fischer, Acting Venus Express Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESOC. Note that a full article will be posted in the main ESA website within a couple work days. – Ed.

I am happy to announce that VEX has successfully completed the last pericenter raising OCM (orbit correction manoeuvre) without problems.

Visualisation of Venus Express during the aerobraking manoeuvre, which will see the spacecraft orbiting Venus at an altitude of around 130 km from 18 June to 11 July. In the month before, the altitude will gradually be reduced from around 200 km to 130 km. If the spacecraft survives and fuel permits, the elevation of the orbit will be raised back up to approximately 450 km, allowing operations to continue for a further few months. Eventually, however, the spacecraft will plunge back into the atmosphere and the mission will end. ESA–C. Carreau

Visualisation of Venus Express during the aerobraking manoeuvre, which will see the spacecraft orbiting Venus at an altitude of around 130 km from 18 June to 11 July. ESA–C. Carreau

The final orbit will be announced later, but we achieved a roughly 460-km pericenter height and an about 63000-km apocenter height, with a new orbit duration of roughly 22h and 24 minutes.

Some facts on the OCMs:

  • Over the 15 OCMs, each thruster fired more than 8000 pulses and burned about 1.3 kilos of propellant (NTO and MMH) bringing the total consumption to around 5.2 kilos for the raising.
  • No degradation or signs of tank depletion was seen.
  • The spacecraft still seems to be in excellent shape.

Meanwhile, the entire team is busy working to to restart full science on this new orbit.

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