European space scientists with ESA are finishing work on a probe heading for Venus to help research global warming.
Venus Express is scheduled to reach the planet next April after completing a 153-day journey from a Russian base in Kazakhstan.
The world is similar in size to Earth but, lying second from the sun, is vastly different.
Venus is believed to have become a victim of a massive explosion in greenhouse gas emissions and could provide a useful blueprint for possible repercussions of pollution on Earth.
It is the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon and has clouds of suffocating gas driven by hurricane-force winds, as well as a surface pressure and temperature high enough to crush and melt steel.
Dmitry Titov, chief scientist with the European Space Agency’s Venus project, said preparations on the probe’s rocket were almost complete.
He said: “The launcher is being assembled right now and the final tests are being carried out.”
A month-long window to launch the Soyuz Freget rocket has been arranged to start on October 26.
Venus Express will be equipped with seven instruments intended to map the planet’s surface and weather system, looking at temperature variation, cloud formations, wind speeds and gas composition.