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ESA Venus Express Status Report No. 82 - MESSENGER Flyby

Status Report From: ESA Venus Express Mission
Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2007

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14 Jun 2007 16:26

Report for Period 3 May to 9 June 2007

This period saw Venus Express's special operations during the flyby of Venus by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft. Two full Cebreros passes were skipped to allow for the observations which proceeded as planned. One additional Cebreros pass was shortened to 3 hours to allow for proper cooling of VIRTIS prior to the observations.

The table below shows a chronology of the main activities in the reporting period:

MET (Day) Date DOY VPER# Main Activity
572 03/06/07 154 401 Routine Mission Operations
573 04/06/07 155 402

Routine Mission Operations.
Pass shortened to 3 hrs.

574 05/06/07 156 403 Pass skipped for Messenger flyby observations
575 06/06/07 157 404 Pass skipped for Messenger flyby observations
576 07/06/07 158 405 Special activities: PFR dumps, science dumps
577 08/06/07 159 406 Routine Mission Operations
578 09/06/07 160 407 Routine Mission Operations. Telemetry bitrate changed to 38 kbps

At the end of the last Cebreros pass in the reporting period (DOY 160, 18:00z) Venus Express was orbiting Venus at 105 million km from the Earth. The one-way signal travel time was 352 seconds.

MESSENGER Flyby

Closest approach to Venus occurred at 23:08 UT on 5 June, with the MESSENGER spacecraft flying within 338 km over the Venusian coordinates 12.25° South and 165° East. At the time, Venus Express was on the opposite side of Venus, but it passed over the same region as MESSENGER both several hours before and after the flyby (orbital period of 24 hours). Together, the two spacecraft carried out observations of Venus's cloud deck, plasma environment, atmosphere and its oxygen airglow and surface.

The flyby observations were further joined by ground based telescopes around the world in a coordinated campaign. For more details see also "Coordinated Ground-based Observation Campaign" in the right hand side navigation. 

Payload Activities

ASPERA
ASPERA has been reporting thermal out-of-limit (OOL) conditions at switch-on, when activated during Earth communications phases. Further instances of OOLs at switch-on have been avoided by disabling ASPERA mission timeline telecommands during periods of Earth pointing.

MAG
The instrument was regularly operated as part of the routine plan.

PFS
This instrument was OFF and was not operated.

SPICAV
The instrument was regularly operated as part of the routine plan.
It was decided this week to go ahead with the implementation of the necessary Flight Operations Plan (FOP) changes to allow usage of the new SPICAV shutter On-Board Control Procedure (OBCP). Once all the changes have been implemented, checked and approved, routine usage of the new OBCP may commence.

VeRA
Two occultation observations were performed during this reporting period: one over New Norcia on DOY 158 and one with the Canberra 70-m DSN station on DOY 160.

VIRTIS
The instrument was regularly operated as part of the routine plan.

VMC
The instrument has been operated as part of the routine plan.

Future Milestones

Quadrature phase operations will continue up to 16 June (DoY 167).
PFS tests are being prepared to try to move the scanner during a wheel off-loading (WOL).

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