Venus is the brightest 'star' in the night sky and it has been observed since ancient times. Often dubbed Earth's 'twin', it is the planet most similar to the Earth in size, mass and composition. There the similarity ends: Venus is shrouded by a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, its surface is dominated by thousands of volcanoes and it lacks a protective magnetic field to shield it from energetic solar particles. So why isn't Venus more like Earth? In The Scientific Exploration of Venus, a leading researcher of Venus addresses this question by explaining what we know through our investigations of the planet. Venus presents an intriguing case study for planetary astronomers and atmospheric scientists, especially in light of the current challenges of global warming, which supports, and potentially threatens, life on Earth. Scientifically rigorous, yet written in a friendly non-technical style, this is a broad introduction for students, and astronomy and space enthusiasts.
Part I. Views of Venus, from the Beginning to the Present Day
1. The dawn of Venus exploration
2. Mariner and Venera
3. Pioneer Venus and Vega: orbiters, balloons and multi-probes
4. Images of the surface
5. The forgotten world
6. Earth-based astronomy delivers a breakthrough
7. Can't stop now
8. Europe and Japan join in: Venus Express and Akatsuki
Part II. The Motivation to Continue the Quest
9. Origin and evolution: the solid planet
10. Atmosphere and ocean
11. A volcanic world
12. The mysterious clouds
13. Superwinds and polar vortices
14. The climate on Venus, past, present and future
15. Could there be life on Venus?
Part III. Plans and Visions for the Future
16. Solar system exploration
17. Coming soon to a planet near you: planned Venus missions
18. Towards the horizon: advanced technology
19. Beyond the horizon: human expeditions
Appendix A. Chronology of space missions to Venus
Appendix B. Data about Venus
Fred Taylor is Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. He is a senior figure in the planetary science community, and has been involved in NASA and ESA missions to study Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. He is also a prolific author – in addition to his Mars book, he has written The Cambridge Photographic Guide to the Planets (2001) and the textbooks Elementary Climate Physics (2005) and Planetary Atmospheres (2010), and he has co-authored five other books. His lead roles in the Pioneer Venus and Venus Express missions give him a unique and authoritative perspective of this area. He is the recipient of numerous awards including thirteen NASA Achievement Awards; The Bates Medal of the European Geophysical Society, for Excellence in the Planetary Sciences; and The Arthur C. Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award.
"The Scientific Exploration of Venus is a fascinating book that tells us everything about our understanding of our neighbouring planet, from ancient times to modern exploration. In a clear and brilliant style, the author leads us along all aspects of this quest, from the early images and the ground-based spectroscopic observations to the achievements of the space era. Chapter after chapter, we learn how our knowledge of the planet has improved, what are the open issues, and finally what the future of the planet might be. This very complete and well-documented book about our sister planet will be a reference for not just scientists and students, but also for anyone interested in the future evolution of our own planet."
– Dr Thérèse Encrenaz, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, and author of Life Beyond Earth
"This is a comprehensive and well-written account of the science and exploration of Venus written by the right person at the right time. Fred Taylor has been deeply involved in missions to Earth's sister planet since the 1970s, and his masterful and accessible synthesis of our growing knowledge over the years includes the first full account of the recent groundbreaking Venus Express mission, and concludes with some imaginative speculations about ambitious possibilities for far future exploration."
– Dr David Grinspoon, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and author of Venus Revealed