Highlights:

  • Both missions were picked from a competitive, peer-reviewed process.
  • The missions are called DAVINCI+ and VERITAS.
  • The infrared mapper will be provided by the German Aerospace Center.
  • Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales of France and the Italian Space Agency will contribute to the radar and other parts of the mission.

On Wednesday, NASA announced 2 new missions to Venus that will launch at the end of the decade with an aim at learning how the nearest planetary of Earth became a hellscape while Earth thrived.

The new administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson said, “These 2 sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world, capable of melting lead at the surface. They will offer the entire science community the chance to investigate a planet we haven’t been to in more than 30 years.”

Under the Discovery Program of NASA, the missions have been awarded about 500 million dollars which is roughly around Rs 3,650 crores. The missions are likely to launch in 2028-2030. Based on the scientific value and feasibility of the plans, both missions were picked from a competitive, peer-reviewed process.

The Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation (DAVINCI+) of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, will gather more detail on the composition of the primary carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus to learn how it formed and evolved.

The mission will also determine if the planet once had an ocean. A descent sphere will plunge through the dense atmosphere which is laced with sulfuric acid clouds. To learn what gave rise to the runaway greenhouse effect at present, it will precisely measure the levels of noble gases and other elements.

DAVINCI+ will also take the first high-resolution images of “tesserae” of the planet, geological features roughly comparable with Earth’s continents whose existence suggests Venus has plate tectonics.

The other mission is called VERITAS, an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, which will aim to map the Venusian surface from orbit and delve into the geologic history of the planet.

It will use a form of radar that can create 3-D constructions and it will chart surface elevations to confirm if earthquakes and volcanoes are still happening on the planet.

To determine the almost unknown rock type, it will also use infrared scanning and it will also see if active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.

To the NASA-led missions, the infrared mapper will be provided by the German Aerospace Center while Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales of France and the Italian Space Agency will contribute to the radar and other parts of the mission. The last Venus orbiter of NASA was Magellan, which arrived in 1990, but since then, other vessels have made fly-byes.

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