Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Venus Probe Set to Reach Target

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the venus-or-bust dept.

141

Accommodate Students writes "The BBC is reporting on the first space mission to Venus in a decade, which is about to reach its target. From the article: 'On Tuesday morning, a European robotic craft will perform a 50-minute-long engine burn to slow its speed enough to be captured by Venus' gravity. Venus Express will orbit our nearest planetary neighbour for about 500 Earth days to study its atmosphere, which has undergone runaway greenhouse warming.' If all goes well, it could shed important light on climate change here on Earth."

cancel ×

141 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fp (3, Funny)

Elitist_Phoenix (808424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104382)

I'd give venus a probing with my "first post"

Re:fp (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104403)

90 atmospheres is nice and tight, but your probe tends to get crushed and melted before the mission's "climax"...

Re:fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104711)

I bet you wouldn't have said that if it was a probe to Uranus.

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105144)

I'd give venus a probing with my "first post"

And I'd like to "tax" Racquel Welch.

time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104384)

i wonder if they will sit through that 50 minutus watching.

From the article (5, Funny)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104386)

I notice that the article calls Venus `Earth's Evil Twin'. Does that mean we can expect the probe to detect a large goatee on the surface?

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:From the article (1)

Flendon (857337) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104402)

For some reason I read that as a large goat.cx on the surface.

Oh and I should mention that this is a dupe [slashdot.org] .

Re:From the article (0)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104414)

"For some reason I read that as a large goat.cx on the surface."

You're not the only one. :/

Re:From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104458)

Oh and I should mention that this is a dupe.

So be sure to tag it as so, kiddies.

Re:From the article (1)

jamie (78724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104708)

Since it's not a dupe (first story: "set to go into orbit", second story "has gone into orbit"), tagging it as dupe is a great way to have the degree to which your tags will affect our system reduced.

Re:From the article (1)

Flendon (857337) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106213)

Re-read the summary. At the time of that post the article was talking future tense. The article has since been updated after the succesful orbit burn this morning. It was a dupe up until they completely rewrote the article.

Re:From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15106249)

Since you bring it up, can I ask if there's a reason the tags aren't showing up for me? I know it says in the FAQ "tagging is only open to subscribers and some users," but I can't even see them. Is this the expected behavior?

Re:From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104526)

It's not a dupe. It was in the planning stage in that article, and now it's almost at Venus.

Re:From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104542)

Hopefully you were kidding. That article was two days ago and the whole in-the-planning stages headline was misleading as the first 5+, Informative comment pointed out.

Suspected Al Qaeda Bases on Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104513)

The REAL purpose of the probe is to check for suspected al Qaeda bases on Venus. Osama Bin Ladin is supposed to be hiding his WMDs there.

Re:Suspected Al Qaeda Bases on Venus (0, Offtopic)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104619)

Oh, so now OBL has WMD's as well?! What kind of crazy "You get a WMD! You get a WMD! You get a WMD!" Oprah episode is this.

First Iraq, then Iran, now Osama?!? Jeezus!

Re:From the article (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104794)

Does that mean we can expect the probe to detect a large goatee on the surface?

It will not be seen on the pictures because it has a VEIL pattern all over it, and therefore the cameras will switch themselves off as soon as it would be in the image.

Re:From the article (1)

Bob3141592 (225638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105043)

I notice that the article calls Venus `Earth's Evil Twin'.

They're just saying that to justify the invasion by this spacecraft before the full scale attack.

Enough of that (-1, Troll)

Zutroi_Zatatakowsky (513851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104404)

"If all goes well, it could shed important light on climate change here on Earth."

Jesus Christ SHUT UP! Every single science/astronomy news bit has to have this "This X discovery will help us understand more about Y." I know I'm not the only starting to get sick of this.

Re:Enough of that (1)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104418)

Would you rather they said:

"This X discovery will help us understand more about... absolutely nothing... we just wasted a lot of money."

Re:Enough of that (1)

mwissel (869864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104444)

Jesus Christ SHUT UP! Every single science/astronomy news bit has to have this "This X discovery will help us understand more about Y." I know I'm not the only starting to get sick of this. Yeah... And I've seen enough of those flame-to-have-flamed-posts. Not everything's worth to complain about. What else should be the point for investing such a fscking big amount of money than solving or getting information about a problem that is directly related to us? People do science and research always because of that. Think about it.

Re:Enough of that (1)

Zutroi_Zatatakowsky (513851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104477)

I am not saying that research has no point or use, I'm just tired of reading this stupid sentence in every science-related articles, reporters have nothing to say and can't bother giving real explanations so they say "this is going to help us understand X."

Re:Enough of that (-1, Offtopic)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104445)

Why are you asking Jesus Christ to shut up?

He has not written the article.

Re:Enough of that (0, Offtopic)

Jesus Christ Almight (967571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104771)

Thank you William for defending me like that. Now, stop wanking so much.

Re:Enough of that (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106275)

> "If all goes well, it could shed important light on climate change here on Earth."

Jesus Christ SHUT UP! Every single science/astronomy news bit has to have this "This X discovery will help us understand more about Y." I know I'm not the only starting to get sick of this.

Your complain is doubly true here! The last probe revealed that the climate of Venus has nothing to do with potential global warming here. Venus didn't become the way it is because of a "runaway" greenhouse effect - Venus basically doesn't rotate. Venus became a furnace because you can't keep liquids on a planet that doesn't rotate fast enough to equalize the solar heat.

Earth doesn't have this problem, and in fact has geological-scale feedback mechanisms to regulate the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The fear of global warming here is that the feedback mechanisms are too slow to help on a human time scale, not that Earth could ever become Venus. 20 years ago planetologists speculated that Venus didn't have sufficiently active geology to regulate its CO2 on a large scale, but we've since learned that that's basically irrelevent to Venus being a furnace (though it's still quite interesting academically).

Climate on Venus (2, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104409)

Judging from the climate, we can safely guess how the last elections on Venus went like. However, Veneral Republican Party spokesman said: "Global warming is just an unproven myth".

We are also sure that Democrats don't rule Mars, either -- they haven't yet ran out of sand.

Re:Climate on Venus (0, Offtopic)

bheer (633842) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104441)

It's Venusian, not 'Veneral' (assuming you misspelt 'Venereal', which does originate from 'Venus' but is used as a synonym for 'sexual' and is not used for the planet).

Wikipedia has a bit more [wikipedia.org] on this.

And oh, is the Republican Party responsible for Global Warming now? That is such a tired cliche.

Global warming and the Republican Denial (3, Insightful)

iendedi (687301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104556)

And oh, is the Republican Party responsible for Global Warming now? That is such a tired cliche.
I don't think he was implying that the Republican Party is in any way responsible for global warming. I believe he was implying that the Republican Party is responsible for denying that there is any such thing as global warming. And yes, that denial is very tired even if it is cliche.

Mods on Crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105140)

In a story about Venus, a post about how 'Veneral' is wrong offtopic??

Re:Climate on Venus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104552)

Nobody is ignoring global warming. Many are questioning that humans are causing the global warming.

I personally agree that humans can have a slight effect but certianly not enough to do what is seen. You enviro wannabe's ignore the fact that all inner planets of the solar system are currently experiencing the SAME global warming as well as some of the outer planets as well. You guys also love to ignore the blatent fact that we are coming out of an ice age.

Maybe if the enviro leftist nuts shut the hell up and let real science speak we all would see that this is a part of the normal cycle in this tiny little planet and Solar system.

Cripes we know 0.0001% of this planet's climate history and you nuts go around acting like experts. Give me 10,000 years of daily measured data and then I'll pay attention to your wild ass claims. (No, you can not get accurate temperature data from ice packs, you can get a crude average that is highly influenced by local events and conditions. you cant get any of the critically important data out of any current arceological techniques.)

This probe will prove that system wide there is a warming trend because of increased solar output. something that we should have been monitoring very closely for the past 100 years but were too busy hugging trees that should have been cut down and replanted.

Global warming, beside the point (2, Interesting)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104631)

What causes global warming is totally beside the point!

Yet global warming is a fact, no-one disputes that (anymore). What are we going to do about it? In addition, oil is going to become harder and harder to extract. It IS a finite resource.

Right now we are looking at massive future crop failures. Massive hunger even in western countries.

Large scale flooding of important cities and centers of production, disruption to transportation and communication.

We should be planning for these, stockpiling food, re-thinking food production, massively reducing oil consumption (we'll need it later) and building flood protection.

The POINT is, none of this is POLITICALLY, or more importantly ECONOMICALLY possible right now.

And that is what we should be worrying about right now.

Re:Global warming, beside the point (3, Insightful)

BigDogCH (760290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104692)

"Yet global warming is a fact, no-one disputes that (anymore)."

That is what I thought too, then I took a little survey. Very few of my coworkers, none of our distributors, and few of my family members believe it is happening.

One distributor said something which everyone really agreed with. "I can't imagine our temperature measurements from 100 years ago were all that accurate. What did they do, stick a thermometer down in a hole, light a match to read it, and estimate the temperature?"

I have no idea what the hole was for, but everyone seemed to agree with him. Plus, anyone who sees global warming for what it really is, is chastized as some crazy person, an untrue American, and a probably a terrorist.

I have tried clouding the issues with facts and figures, but they seem meaningless. I would guess it is just denial, so they don't have to feel guilty for driving their SUV's and Minivans over an hour to work.

Re:Global warming, beside the point (0)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104843)

I actually find this really surprising!

I mean, simply all these extreme weather events we've had should have some meaning to people. These are very concrete things.

I remember I was in Myrtle Beach SC about six years ago, and they had this huge bunch of tornados hit the beach area. That had never happened before. And this was after last years hurrican season.

Winters have changed too, winter seems to be coming later, ending later and it is wetter too. Looks like these are things hard to ignore, even though the data that proves it would be.

Interesting thing, a friend of mine is shopping for a car, and his main criteria is low fuel consumption. So it IS affecting atleast some people.

I wonder though, how common the attitudes you mentioned are?

Re:Climate on Venus (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104655)

You do realise solar output only varies a very small amount, right? Most cycles associated with changing solar radiance actually have more to do with a planet getting closer or further away from a star due to orbital fluctuations.

As for climate data, we have climate data for 10% of the planets history, no, you don't want to know how and yes it is only mean temperatures over longer periods of time. However we do have roughly year on year data for the last tenthousand years though through various ways and it probably can be extended back for some millions of years I suppose, considering some of the methodologies are relatively robust.

Anycase, I do hope some people will finally pay attention to the reality of data instead of constantly calling up the same old wrong idea of just having the last hundred years of weather data, or are you a troll? I suppose that is also possible.

Re:Climate on Venus (2, Insightful)

BigDogCH (760290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104719)

While I do agree with some of your post........this really stands out.

"Maybe if the enviro leftist nuts shut the hell up and let real science speak we all would see that this is a part of the normal cycle in this tiny little planet and Solar system."

Maybe? Maybe? Don't you think that even if there is a slight chance that global warming is caused by humans, it should be confronted and fixed.

Ah what the hell, we have lots of other planets to live on.

Re:Climate on Venus (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104986)

You're right and good for you for making it a political thing. Nothing makes an argument that more persausive than when you draw party lines. The smog in LA wasn't caused by humans it's just part of the eco cycle. Same with all that crappy air the Chinese are breathing, it's mother natures way of saying "I'm transforming into something new keep doing what you're doing because it's helping me kill all the humans."

Re:Climate on Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105138)

Maybe if the enviro leftist nuts shut the hell up and let real science speak we all would see that this is a part of the normal cycle in this tiny little planet and Solar system.

Real science being defined as what exactly ? Crichton's latest thriller ?

Venus Express (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104415)

Who chooses these names? 'Venus Express' sounds like the name of a low class Berlin nightclub.

Re:Venus Express (1)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104527)

It was picked because the mission was planned, built and launched within a relatively small space of time (around 4 years?) whereas normally they take a few years longer than that. :) So the name was the giving themselves a pat on the back for working efficiently and being able to carry it off.

Re:Venus Express (1)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104616)

To expand: Rosetta, then Mars Express and then Venus Express are all very similar, and follow the new principle of Faster, Cheaper, Better (and if you say "pick any 2" the PR depeartment wil be round to re-educate you !).

(Compare and contrast with Envisat.)

Re:Venus Express (1)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104955)

Envisat's what I work with... it works well, but I'm not so sure about the faster/cheaper parts!

Re:Venus Express (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106101)

It was picked because the mission was planned, built and launched within

... a low class Berlin nightclub.

Re:Venus Express (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104535)

'Venus Express' sounds like the name of a low class Berlin nightclub
It sure beats the original name of Venus Muff Diver.

Re:Venus Express (0)

jrmiller84 (927224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104959)

Or a really bad chinese restaurant

Moons (1, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104425)

From TFA:

Moons venus: 0 earth: 1

I remember an old theory that the moon keeps Earth from boiling over by sweeping away much of the atmosphere over time. I wonder if this is still considered a significant factor?

Its worth noting that the moons of Mars are in much lower orbits than our moon, and mars has much less of an atmosphere than earth.

Re:Moons (5, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104447)

As far as we can tell, Mars has far fewer pirates than the Earth - this may also be a factor in the planet's weak atmosphere. We believe there are no pirates at all on the Moon.

Perhaps the surface of Venus is covered in pirates - that could explain its thick dense atmosphere.

Jolyon

Re:Moons (2, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104555)

Doesn't the existence of pirates *counteract* global warming, though? If anything, the fact that Venus is such a furnace indicates that there aren't any pirates on there.

If this mission confirms that this is indeed the case, it'll be further evidence that the gospel of the FSM is indeed correct.

Re:Moons (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104642)

And if the mission fails to confirm it, it will be because FSM has changed the results with His Noodly Appendage! Sweet!

Re:Moons (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106068)

Pirates ... From Space

OMG!!! Pirates!!!

Re:Moons (5, Interesting)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104471)

I remember an old theory that the moon keeps Earth from boiling over by sweeping away much of the atmosphere over time. I wonder if this is still considered a significant factor?

I've heard the same thing... in science fiction novels. Larry Niven, I believe. It may be true, but I've never seen any comprehensive explanation of how this is supposed to occur. Does the atmosphere somehow leak away on geological timescales through the Lagrange points somehow? I've got no idea. Does anyone know?

This idea does appeal to me, though, because if true it adds another factor to the Drake equation for finding *earthlike* civilizations in the galaxy. According to the impactor theory of the moon's origin, the moon's creation was a very improbable event. Perhaps that's why we don't see any Dyson spheres- you not only need a planet in the liquid water region of a solar system, you need that planet to be whacked at a very particular angle to form a moon large enough to prevent a Venus from forming instead of an Earth.

Its worth noting that the moons of Mars are in much lower orbits than our moon, and mars has much less of an atmosphere than earth.

It's also worth noting that Mars' moons are TINY. Phoebos and Deimos are 22 and 12 km in diameter, respectively. They're utterly insignificant.

Compare that to the Moon, which is comparable to Earth in both diameter (27% of the earth's) and to a lesser extent mass (1.2% of the earth's). In fact, some astronomers consider the Earth-moon system to be a double planet because of this fact.

Re:Moons (2, Interesting)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105336)

Without the moon, there would be no life on Earth.

When that huge impact happened, what was blown off was most of the lighter, surface material of the early Earth. All of those light silicates eventually clumped up to form the moon, leaving a body with a much thinner crust and a higher overall proportion of heavy metals. This made it much easier for convection currents to run inside the Earth's core, allowing the creation of a magnetic field. This deflected the solar wind, protecting the Earth from most of the hard radiation from the Sun. Venus doesn't have much in the way of protection: [ucla.edu]
Theories of the dynamos operating in the liquid cores of the newly accreted terrestrial planets suggest that there was a magnetic moment of Venus of the same order as Earth's for about the first billion years of Venus' life. During that time, thermal convection from the heat left over from accretion drove the dynamo. However, after that energy source diminished, there was apparently no source to replace it. While solid core formation in Earth's interior maintains its dynamo to this day by virtue of the related 'stirring' of the molten core around it, Venus appears to either lack the necessary internal ingredients (chemical or physical) for solid core formation, or to have ceased such processes at an earlier time if they resulted in complete core solidification or arrested core solidification.
It's the moon pulling on the Earth that keeps this "stirring" going, by tugging on the surface and slowing it at a faster rate than the core.

The relatively thin crust made it much easier for the surface to crack and float around in pieces. If it were really thick, like on Venus, it would be too rigid for easy cracking, bumping, and grinding. Plate tectonics causes a lot of carbon on the surface to be sucked under the surface and recycled.

Tidal forces caused by the moon also pulled on the early Earth atmosphere, causing it to expand upward beyond the protection of the magnetic field. Once up there, the gases were swept away.

Re:Moons (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105372)

>Tidal forces caused by the moon also pulled on the early Earth >atmosphere, causing it to expand upward beyond the protection of >the magnetic field. Once up there, the gases were swept away.

Doubtful. Even when the moon was much closer than it is now I
can't see how its gravity could have bodily lifted the atmosphere
high enough to drag it out of the earths magnetic field. Even
if the moon was right next to the earth it would still only
pull 1/6 G which means the atmosphere would overall feel 5/6G.
Not small enough for it to expand anything like that far up.

Re:Moons (1)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105829)

The moon's gravity is strong enough to be felt at the Earth's surface even today. It's pretty weak, but it's still strong enough to lift up the water in the oceans, causing the tides you see every day. For that matter, the sun's gravity lifts the oceans [uwgb.edu] , too.

You don't have to have the moon pull all of the gases off the planet's surface, just act in a tidal action to loft them somewhat. 2.5 billion years ago, the moon was closer and the atmosphere was thicker. When the lunar tidal forces acted on the atmosphere, it expanded fractionally, and a small fraction of the uppermost atmosphere was ionized and blown away by the solar wind. Lather, rinse, repeat for 2.5 billion years and you have the atmophere we enjoy today.

Moon's creation not that improbable (2, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106036)

Does the atmosphere somehow leak away on geological timescales through the Lagrange points somehow? I've got no idea. Does anyone know?

Some gases escape like H and He. Heavier modecules like N2, O2, CO2 do not. This [cwru.edu] talks about the process. The moon plays absolutely no role in helping earth retain atmosphere.

According to the impactor theory of the moon's origin, the moon's creation was a very improbable event.

I don't see why it is so improbable. Pluto has a much larger moon relative to its size than Earth in Charon, and it orbits in extreme isolation in the outer solar system. Many Kuiper belt objects that may be larger than Pluto also have moons. Saturn/Titan and Neptune/Triton are significant planet/moon pairs. Jupiter has tons of moons. Binary pairs are an extremely stable configuration. Nature likes them.

Re:Moons (3, Interesting)

SigILL (6475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104495)

I remember an old theory that the moon keeps Earth from boiling over by sweeping away much of the atmosphere over time.

No, but the Moon did slow down the rotation of the Earth by quite a bit. If Luna'd be lacking, Earth's surfaces would supposedly be battered by extremely strong winds.

It's theorised that Venus' climate isn't caused by its lack of a moon but because it's rotating way too slow (I got the climate-link from Stephen Baxter's Space, but I'm sure it's well documented in astronomic science). It takes about 243 days for Venus to rotate around its axis, and it's even rotating in the opposite direction as most of the rest of the (Sol system) planets.

Slow Rotation of Venus / Temperature of Dark Side? (1)

iendedi (687301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104663)

Does anyone know what the daytime / nighttime temperature variations are on Venus? How long, taking into account axial rotation and rotation around the Sun, is the venusian day and venusian night at different points on Venus?

Are there regions in perpetual darkness or perpetual light? Is it possible that there are areas that are much lower temperature? Or perhaps a moving seasonal band of low temperature following the rotational cycle of the planet?

Seems to me there might be some interesting possibilities for life on Venus due to it's slow rotation.

Re:Slow Rotation of Venus / Temperature of Dark Si (2, Interesting)

SigILL (6475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105487)

Does anyone know what the daytime / nighttime temperature variations are on Venus?

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] mentions min/mean/max surface temperatures of -45.15 degC, 463.85 degC and 499.85 degC (-49.27 degF, 866.93 degF and 931.73 degF) respectively.

Seems to me there might be some interesting possibilities for life on Venus due to it's slow rotation.

Only if you're interested in a semi-nomadic lifestyle.

There have been proposals to establish human colonies in the cloudtops of Venus, which are much more livable temperature- and pressure-wise. These would have the advantage of being relatively easily movable so as to remain optimally positioned.

Re:Moons (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105179)

I'm honestly curious why having the earth rotate faster would result in stronger winds? Since wind is driven by temperature differences within the atmosphere, wouldn't a faster spinning earth have more consistent temperatures across it due to a more even heating? It's all more complicated than I understand, for sure, but is there a basic explanation to why the slowing of rotation is important?

Although I do remember arguing a few years back with a classmate who believed that wind was caused by the earth rotating beneath us while the atmosphere generally sat still above it. He was not convinced by the fact that wind is not always present, nor does it always come from the same direction.

Re:Moons (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106051)

Check out Coriolis Force in Google.

Re:Moons (2, Insightful)

SigILL (6475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106180)

Since wind is driven by temperature differences within the atmosphere, wouldn't a faster spinning earth have more consistent temperatures across it due to a more even heating?

You have a point. That sounds a lot more plausible than my explanation. I tried to find sources to back up my initial claim, but the only one I did find [starryskies.com] compared Earth to the much-faster rotating Jupiter and concluded that a faster-rotating Earth would have stronger surface winds. Doesn't sound like a very valid comparison to me, what with the size difference and rock- vs. gas-planet.

Another reply here [slashdot.org] mentioned the Coriolis effect, but I think it's much too small to be the primary cause.

However, there are plenty of other reasons why the presence of the Moon is considered important. There's even a book about it: What If The Moon Didn't Exist? [amazon.com] .

Re:Moons (1)

jcorno (889560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104626)

I remember an old theory that the moon keeps Earth from boiling over by sweeping away much of the atmosphere over time. I wonder if this is still considered a significant factor?

I don't think that's possible. The atmosphere tapers off about 18 miles up. The moon is 240,000 miles up. At best it would shift the atmosphere a little bit off center.

An aside on moons (2, Interesting)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105405)

Years ago, Isaac Asimov wrote an article called Just Mooning Around that I read in a collection called Of Time and Space and Other Things.

In the article, Asimov calculated what he called the "tug-of-war ratio" for a particular satellite: the ratio of the sun's pull on a satellite to the primary's pull on that satellite. For Jupiter's satellites, for example, the Galilean moons are pulled much more strongly by Jupiter than by the Sun, whereas with the outer satellites Jupiter just barely wins the contest, making it likely that they are captured asteroids.

He goes on to calculate a maximum distance at which each planet is able to hold satellites. This gets interesting in the inner solar system. Mars' "tug-of-war distance" is just beyond where its two tiny moons happen to exist; Venus' maximum satellite distance is within its atmoshpere; and Mercury's maximum distance is beneath its surface. The Earth, of course, has no natural satellites within its maximum calculated distance.

So what's up with our Moon? At a quarter of a million miles away from us, the Sun pulls our Moon more than twice as strongly as the Earth does. Therefore, Asimov speculates, the Moon is not a true satellite of the Earth. He says that if you were to draw the Moon's orbit to scale, it would always be concave toward the Sun, and concludes that the Earth and the Moon are a binary planet system.

So the reason Venus has no moons is because it can't... then again the Earth can't have the moon it does either, but it managed to cheat somehow.

what about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104435)

how did the probe to Uranus go?

Re:what about.. (1)

KarateExplosions (959215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105085)

Oh man... that's hilarious. It's like, there's a double meaning, because "Uranus" is a planet in our solar system, but also it sounds a lot like "your anus"! Holy shit, that's funny.

And then "probe" like a space probe that goes to another planet, but also like a "probe" that goes into someone's anus, thus referencing the above hilarity all over again!

This joke is a marvel on all levels and it's amazing that someone has not already thought of it!

Mod parent up +27 TEH FUnnay!

Re:what about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105192)

Did someone anal probe you?

Re:what about.. (1)

KarateExplosions (959215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105227)

ZING! Does your razor-sharp wit know no bounds?

Anal probe... ha, excuse me while I wipe away tears of uproarious laughter.

Re:what about.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105293)

Thru the blue ring [bbc.co.uk] of course!! :D

The Soviets (2, Informative)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104452)

This looks like a good moment to remind everyone of the amazing missions to Venus [wikipedia.org] of the Russians. Sending back pictures from Venus in 1975 was an amazing achievement, and it's a great shame that we heard so little about it at the time.

It's also a good time to remember that the USA government has always made out that they do not do "psyops" [wikipedia.org] on American citizens, but during the Cold War it is clear that they did. I fear that they are also doing so today with the new "Long war" [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:The Soviets (2, Informative)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104496)

Wow,

very interesting post pubjames. It seems like the soviets were obsessed with Venus, 16 probes for god sakes!

We should point out that these missions preceded the viking missions to Mars, thus they were the first landings on another planet.

Re:The Soviets (2, Informative)

Rolo Tomasi (538414) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104667)

The thing is, before the Russians sent their probes there, scientists thought that Venus was just like Earth, only a bit more warm and humid, and that there were huge rainforests covering the planet's surface. That's why the Soviets thought that Venus would be the most worthwhile target - everyone thought it was habitable.

Only when their first probe was crushed/cooked on descent, they realized that conditions there weren't that friendly after all.

Re:The Soviets (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104819)

What? maybe LONG before the probes. I'm pretty sure we had spectrometers and telescopes available before any of those probes were sent though.

Re:The Soviets (1)

Rolo Tomasi (538414) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105013)

Venus is completely covered in clouds, so a telescope or spectrometer won't tell you jack about the surface conditions. The fact is that until the Venera probes, most scientists thought that Venus could support human life.

Re:The Soviets (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105976)

We should point out that these missions [to Venus] preceded the viking missions to Mars, thus they were the first landings on another planet.
Something well known to anyone with knowledge of space history beyond the Mass Media. (I.E. anyone who has read actual books.) They were first on Mars and the Moon too.

Proof! (4, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104455)

Venus Express will orbit our nearest planetary neighbour for about 500 Earth days to study its atmosphere, which has undergone runaway greenhouse warming.

So if we don't find any SUVs on Venus, then we'll know once and for all that they DON'T cause greenhouse warming!

Re:Proof! (1)

gameforge (965493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104510)

and if we do find SUV's on Venus, we'll know that any future NASA Venusian rovers will need to carry good auto insurance, and gas prices will probably be amazingly high...

Bacterial life in the clouds? (2, Interesting)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104514)

I've heard a variety of theories that the cloudy sky of Venus may have conditions that could possibly support bacterial/microscopic life (in this case "extremophiles").

I wonder of Venus Express will ever sample the Venusian atmosphere to see -- perhaps as an "Extended Extended Mission" as they deorbit the probe years from now.

Re:Bacterial life in the clouds? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15106187)

If they didn't intend to do so in the first place, it would be really tricky to have the craft modify itself so it could carry out such a sampling. You can't really extend a mission to do something completely impossible.

Possibility of Life? (2, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104517)

While I hope I am not the only one to hope this, but I do hope that this new probe might shed some light on the possibility of life in the upper atmosphere of Venus. I seem tor ecall a few space.com astrobiology articles on how the upper astmosphere without its crushing presures and temperatures might be a cradle for micro-life. I know that Venus is not the only body in the solar system that might hold life, I guess Lo and Europa and Titan also hold the possibility with their large amounts if water, but I do hope they can spark more interest in looking into the solar system and beyond.

Re:Possibility of Life? (1)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104559)

Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has recently been added to the lists of places considered possible to harbour earthlike like (on the grounds of geological activity and subterranean water). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enceladus_(moon) [wikipedia.org]

Just woke up, it's early.. (-1, Offtopic)

mtec (572168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104557)

...and still dark outside. Once again I wonder; did I wake up my Venus probe, or did it wake me up.

target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104580)

"Science: Venus Probe Set to Reach Target"

there is a wal-mart near the target store in my neighborhood

Has arrived (3, Informative)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104621)

s/Set to reach/Has reached it's/

Europe Scores new Planetary Success [esa.int]

Re:Has arrived (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104798)

Wow! I see where they got the name Venus Express from. It was only two days ago that they were planning to send a probe to Venus [slashdot.org] .

Re:Has arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104845)

I was thinking of "Nightflight to Venus" (Boney M)

Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (4, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104748)

If all goes well, it could shed important light on climate change here on Earth.

It is difficult to see how. Venus slow rotation rate, massive atmosphere, tiny inclination (-3 deg), and lack of a hydrologic cycle should make the climate very stable. The mission has a lot of merits on its own. Why make tenuous comparisons?

Re:Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105005)

Perhaps the intent was to insinuate that if we don't Act Soon, we'll end up just like Venus.

Re:Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105086)

Perhaps the intent was to insinuate that if we don't Act Soon, we'll end up just like Venus.

Don't you think that is an overreaching and absurd insinuation? Venus atmosphere is 96% CO2. Earth's is 0.0360% Doesn't Venus science have value beyond its political use by global warming enthusiasts?

Re:Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (1)

merky1 (83978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105186)

But don't you see, Venus is just like Earth... The only difference is they have more greenhouse gases, the same ones that we put into the atmosphere. If were not careful, someday we might even end up like Mercury.

Of course, evolution might give Monkeys wings, but we need to find life on IO to prove that.

While I agree that our reliance on fossil fuels is akin to the relationship between tweakers and dealers, studying Venus gives us little to no insight on what is happening here. It will be a shame if they waste this opportunity on eco-friendly science instead of actual discovery.

Does global warming exist, yes. It's happened before humans existed, its happening now, and it will happen again once we kill ourselves off and supply oil for the next iteration of life on earth.

Re:Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (2, Insightful)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105523)

Why make tenuous comparisons?

Because it's an easy way to get more money.

In times of huge deficits and out-of-control spending politicians want to appear tough on budgets but without cutting any pork. Pure science projects are therefore a prime target.

By touting each probe as huge opportunity for important advances in climate science, medicine or whatever people (people with the power to approve budgets) care about they try to ensure continued funding of current and future projects

Re:Obligatory statement about Earth climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105554)

Thank you for pointing this out. Can't we read one story about Venus on /. that doen't try to link it's atmosphere to the terrible global-warming trend here on Earth?

They must be very efficient at ESA (2, Funny)

Narishma (822073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104787)

They planned it yesterday [slashdot.org] and it already about to reach the target.

Just heard... (1)

veeoh (444683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104788)

that it got there ok after the burn :)

Go on ESA :)

=V=

Why don't we have (3, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105010)

permanent satellites orbiting all the planets and giving us constant feedback?

Re:Why don't we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105830)

Cost silly!

It's headed where? (1)

glass_window (207262) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105073)

"Venus Probe Set to Reach Target"

And I'm sure when it gets there, it will shop to its heart's content.

Pictures from the surface of venus (2, Informative)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105808)

Check out http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_Venus.htm [mentallandscape.com] for an excellent archive of the Soviet exploration of Venus.

Venera 9 [mentallandscape.com] sent image telemetry for 50 minutes. It scanned 174 of the panorama from left to right, and then 124 scanning right to left.

They drilled, photographed, and used penetrometers on the surface. Each mission lasts a few hours to days before the atmosphere crumples the spacecraft like a soda can due to the pressure. Much different than life on Mars!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>