EVE - European Venus Explorer

An in-situ mission proposal to Venus within the

ESA Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme for the second call in 2010


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"Around Venus by Balloon"

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Last update: 15.11.2011


Mission baseline of the 2010 proposal

In 2007, the EVE team proposed an ambitious mission consisting of one balloon platform floating at an altitude of 50-60 km, one descent probe provided by Russia, and an orbiter with a polar orbit for data relay as well as orbital science. In 2010 we propose a much simpler mission consisting only of a single balloon platform, which will perform a complete circumnavigation of Venus and communicate direct to Earth. We show that this simpler mission, which is achievable by ESA alone, will satisfactorily address many of the key science questions at Venus.

The minimum lifetime of the balloon is 10 days, required for one full circle around the planet, much longer than the 48 hour data returned from Russia's VEGA balloons. Earth-based VLBI and Doppler measurements provide tracking information for the balloon when it is visible from the Earth, allowing measurement of the cloud-level wind field.

EVE is an M-size mission launched by a Soyuz Fregat 2-1b from Kourou (capacity of 1400 kg). A nominal launch date is proposed in 2023, with a possibility to launch earlier in 2021. It consists of a carrier spacecraft, which will deliver the balloon entry probe to Venus before performing a trajectory correction maneuver in order to fly past Venus. The flyby craft will provide data relay for the balloon during the crucial first two hours of its float phase. The balloon, which like the successful Vega balloons will be a helium superpressure balloon, will be deployed at an altitude of 55 km, which is in the heart of the convective cloud deck. The minimum balloon lifetime is 10 days, during which time it will be carried all the way around the planet by Venusí super-rotating winds. A direct-to-Earth communications link will be used to return scientific data. The balloon data transmission rate to Earth through the orbiter relay is estimated to be  about 5 Mbit per day during balloon operation period.

The balloon payload is focussed on all aspects of cloud-level processes. The key instrument is a sophisticated GCMS system to analyse the cloud and gas composition; this is backed up by optical spectrometry of the cloud particle composition, and measurement of dynamics, radiative balance, and microphysical properties. In particular, the balloon offers a stable vehicle for isotopic mass spectrometry, which requires long integration times (hours). Note that the VEGA balloons of 1984, while demonstrating the technological feasibility of deploying balloons on Venus, carried only a very small payload of pressure, temperature, light flux, and backscatter sensors. The EVE balloon would carry a full chemistry lab and isotopic analysis.

The flyby craft would carry only a simple context imager, in order to image the entry site of the balloon probe, but would carry no further science payload.

Public outreach movie: "Around Venus by balloon"

Planetary exploration is exciting.

Therefore, planetary exploration missions offer an invaluable opportunity to engage with the public. In the 21st century, public engagement needs to use many media, including the internet and film.

We present here a short educational film related to the European Venus Explorer mission proposal. If the proposal were selected, we would make several such films, each exploring different science topics: for example greenhouse warming, satellite orbits, cloud processes - as well as films about scientists and engineers at work, the international nature of ESA projects, and other such more general topics.

This particular film is aimed at 14-18 year old science students, but could be used more in a wider range of settings.

If used in a formal education (classroom) setting, teachers should introduce the following concepts:

1) Basic facts about the planets - in particular Earth, Venus, Mars

2) Basic facts on gravity and how to travel to planets

3) Greenhouse warming (natural greenhouse effect and the contribution from industrial gases)

Practical activities can also be linked in with a lesson on Venus and balloons. As an example, the film shows footage from a balloon release experiment performed at a school in Portugal. This proved very popular, and provides a good opportunity to talk about the use of weather balloons. The balloon release experiment can also
be repeated at local schools.

Length of film: 7.5 minutes
Format: MPEG
File size: 77.598 kB
Director: Maarten Roos
Produced by Maarten Roos and the Oxford Academy of Documentary Film

Download the movie

DVD Version - with this link you can download an image file of the movie to burn a DVD
(by using e.g. Disk Utility (Mac) or applications like Nero (Windows). The DVD features subtitles in English and includes an additional short extra film.
File size:
459.360 kB

Download DVD image


Explanatory notes for the use of the movies in classrooms:

Download: Around Venus by Balloon - work suggestions              draft document, under development

Download: Around Venus by Balloon - integral text

Download: Weather Stations and Balloons - integral text