BERLIN: NASA Announces Two New Missions To Venus

BERLIN: NASA Announces Two New Missions To Venus

BERLIN: NASA announced two new missions
to Venus that will launch at the end of the decade and are aimed at learning
how Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor became a hellscape while our own

two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like
world, capable of melting lead at the surface,” said Bill Nelson, the
agency’s newly-confirmed administrator.

will offer the entire science community the chance to investigate a planet we
haven’t been to in more than 30 years.”

missions have been awarded about $500 million under NASA’s Discovery Program,
and each is expected to launch in the 2028-2030 timeframe.

missions were picked from a competitive, peer-reviewed process based on their
scientific value and feasibility of their plans.

which stands for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry,
and Imaging, will gather more detail on the composition of Venus’ primarily
carbon dioxide atmosphere, to learn how it formed and evolved.

mission also seeks to determine whether the planet once had an ocean.

A descent
sphere will plunge through the dense atmosphere which is laced with sulfuric
acid clouds.

It will
precisely measure the levels of noble gases and other elements to learn what
gave rise to the runaway greenhouse effect we see today.

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

results could reshape scientists’ understanding of terrestrial planet

The other
mission is called VERITAS, an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science,
InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy.

This will
aim to map the Venusian surface from orbit and delve into the planet’s geologic

Using a
form of radar that is used to create three-dimensional constructions, it will
chart surface elevations and confirm whether volcanoes and earthquakes are
still happening on the planet.

It will
also use infrared scanning to determine rock type, which is largely unknown,
and whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.

While the
mission is NASA led, the German Aerospace Center will provide the infrared
mapper, while the Italian Space Agency and France’s Centre National d’Etudes
Spatiales will contribute to the radar and other parts of the mission.

is astounding how little we know about Venus, but the combined results of these
missions will tell us about the planet from the clouds in its sky through the
volcanoes on its surface all the way down to its very core,” said Tom
Wagner, NASA’s Discovery Program scientist.

will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”

last Venus orbiter was Magellan, which arrived in 1990, but other vessels have
made fly-bys since then.

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