24 April 2012
Surprising magnetic discovery on Venus
Venus Express space researchers, including Professor Balikhin of ACSE who is a co-investigator in the Venus Express magnetometer mission, have made the startling discovery that magnetic reconnection - the phenomenon that produces magnetic storms and Northern and Southern Lights auroras on Earth - occurs on Venus, even though Venus does not have an intrinsic magnetic field.
The surprise discovery has been reported in 'Nature' and 'Science' and by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Nature: Magnetic storms spotted on Venus
Venus Express News: A magnetic surprise for Venus Express
The Venus Express spacecraft, the first European mission to Venus, was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan in November 2005. It settled into its final operational orbit during May 2006 in preparation for the scientific phase to study of the composition, structure and dynamics of Venus's atmosphere and make comprehensive measurements of the magnetic field in the vicinity of Venus. Venus Express, currently the only spacecraft in orbit around the planet, continues to produce many exciting new discoveries.