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European Probe Heads for Venus

November 09, 2005|From Associated Press

DARMSTADT, Germany — A European-built probe designed to explore the hot, dense atmosphere of Venus blasted off early today on a Russian booster rocket, beginning a five-month journey to the nearest planet to Earth.

The European Space Agency's Venus Express probe lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Europe's first mission to Venus will concentrate on exploring the planet's greenhouse effect and the permanent hurricane-force winds that encircle it. Instruments will be used to try to discover whether Venus' many volcanoes are active and look at how a planet so similar to Earth could have evolved so differently.

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