Off to Venus; NASA plans two new mission at the end of decade

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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US Space entity NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has announced two new missions to Venus, both of which will launch towards the end of the decade.

The missions will learn how our nearest planetary neighbor evolved into a fiery mass while earth flourished.

Mr. Bill Nelson, the agency’s newly confirmed administrator remarked that “these two 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 NASA’s Discovery Program, the missions were granted around $500 million and each is expected to be launched between 2028 and 2030.

Both missions were chosen through a competitive, peer-reviewed process based on the scientific value of their ideas and their feasibility.

One mission named Davinci+ stands for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, and it will collect more information about the composition of Venus’s predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere to better understand how it developed and evolved. It also wants to know if there was ever an ocean on the planet.

A descent sphere will fall into the dense atmosphere laced with sulphuric acid clouds, precisely measuring noble gas and other element levels to determine what caused the current runaway greenhouse effect.

Davinci+ will also beam back the first high-resolution photographs of the planet’s “tesserae,” geological features similar to Earth’s continents, implying that the venus possesses tectonic plates.

Scientists’ understanding of the formation of terrestrial planets could be reshaped as a result of the findings.

The other mission is called Veritas, which stands for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSar, Topography, and Spectroscopy.

It will aim to map the surface of Venus from orbit and delve into the planet’s geological history. It will use infrared scanning to assess the rock type, which is currently unknown, as well as whether or not active volcanoes are emitting water vapor into the atmosphere.

It will chart surface elevations and confirm whether earthquakes are still occurring on the planet using a type of radar that is used to make three-dimensional constructions.

While NASA will lead the mission, the German Aerospace Center will provide the infrared mapper, while the Italian Space Agency and France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales will help with the radar and other parts.

Mr. Tom Wagner, NASA’s Discovery Programme scientist added that “It 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. It will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”

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