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The $260 million mission, the first to Venus since NASA sent up the Magellan mission in 1989, aims to study the greenhouse effect on the planet, where the atmosphere is intensely hot and crushingly dense.
It also hopes to learn what caused volcanic activity some 500 million years ago and whether there is any taking place today.
Venus Express was launched Nov. 9 atop a Russian booster rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Under current plans, the mission is to last 500 days, with the possibility of extending it for another 500.
On the Net: http://www.esa.int
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