The European space Agency (ESA) announces the completion of an eight-year space mission apparatus "Venus Express". Have worked in the orbit of Venus at four times its originally scheduled date, the spacecraft ran out of fuel during the last attempt to extend his time of useful work. As representatives of the ESA, "Venus Express" is no longer able to adjust its position in space, as a result it becomes impossible to send the broadcast message unit to the Ground. Soon the probe will drop to a critical altitude and burn up in the atmosphere of Venus.
In an effort to save the probe from such a sad demise, ESA between 18 June and 11 July, undertook a pilot braking maneuver of the machine with a planet's atmosphere, in which the probe was directed on a new course in the upper layers of the atmosphere, the height of which is about 131-135 km. Every second advance speed of the probe began to slow down and its orbit became more rounded. After that was a series of 15 correction runs of the engine, which helped to stabilize the unit on a new orbit. In the European space Agency believe that the method of braking maneuvers of the spacecraft by the atmosphere of the planet will one day become the most common choice for entry into planetary orbit, as it allows to significantly reduce fuel consumption compared with current conventional methods of braking.
Unfortunately, despite the success of the performed braking maneuvers the probe the planet's atmosphere, this solution was only temporary. In order for the "Venus Express" could be useful to ESA for the new space missions in 2015, the control center of the space probe had to be sent to the probe team for the new series launches its main engine, which took place from 23 to 30 November. The Agency reported, maneuvers that change the position of the apparatus was not implemented until the end so as on 28 November, it was completely lost radio contact. Although telemetry and communication capabilities to the control center still managed to recover, it is noted that the connection is very intermittent, and control of the spacecraft was impossible.
The European space Agency reports that do not have exact figures about how much fuel could be left at "Venus-Express", as the probe has no possibility of providing such data. However, the collected information shows that the device is actually in the "free floating", that could mean that his tanks could remain a certain amount of fuel, which floats in the tanks and pushes the device in different directions.
"Available information suggests that the spacecraft has lost the ability to control, most likely as a result of violation of operation of the engine, which could appear in the frequent maneuvers adjustments of the probe," says Patrick Martin, head of the space mission "Venus Express". "It seems that in the framework of the corrective maneuvers, held last month, the "Venus Express" has exhausted all remaining stocks of the fuel."
Now the fate of the spacecraft has on the atmosphere of Venus. Scientists estimate that the probe will burn it in the next few weeks.
Recall that the "Venus Express" has been studying Venus and have followed the changes of the atmosphere through its interaction with the solar wind.