This month Europe sends the first spacecraft to Venus in 16 years. The reward upon arrival: searing heat, hurricane-force winds and not a drop of water
On October 26, a Soyuz rocket will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmo-
drome in Kazakhstan, catapulting a VW Bugâ€size spacecraft toward Venus. If all goes as planned, Venus Express, which was built by the European Space Agency, will pull into orbit around the cloud-covered planet on April 4, 2006, becoming its first visitor since 1990. The reward upon arrival: searing heat,
hurricane-force winds and little, if any, water.
But planetary scientist Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
is confident that Venus is worth the trip.