«Venus can no longer wait«, has commented the new administrator of NASA, Bill Nelson, when announcing two new robotic missions that under the names of ‘Davinci’ and ‘Veritas’ will try to solve the enigmas of this surprising planet.
Venus has inspired all kinds of religious and astrological references to humans since the first inhabitants of the Earth looked up at the sky and discovered a bright object, the third that can best be seen from our planet (after the Sun and the Moon) and the only one planet of direct observation without instruments because of the large amount of light it can reflect. Obviously, it is the most observed and studied planet of history, with records dating back 3,600 years.
Venus is the closest thing to Earth that we have found in space so far based on its size, mass and composition. And even in the name, since they are the only ones with a feminine name. However, the Roman goddess of love there is nothing cozy since its atmosphere changes everything, it turns it into a completely different planet from ours, the hottest in the Solar System and into a huge hell from greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, mainly), its crushing pressure and the hurricane-force winds that take it away from the habitable conditions for humans.
This today, because astronomers believe that in the remote past Venus could have oceans with liquid water very similar to those on Earth and meet the conditions for life. In fact, popularizer Carl Sagan proposed the terraforming of Venus as a theory that could become a reality with the necessary technologies perhaps within a few centuries. Science fiction is full of references to Venus, both from future civilizations that will terraform it, as well as previous civilizations that populated the planet when its conditions of habitability were different from the current ones, similar to those of the Earth.
NASA returns to Venus
These are the general objectives of the return of the US Space Agency to the infernal planet, thirty years after the launch of the Magellan probe, which without current technological advances “could not provide certainty about the origin of many of the planet’s characteristics,” they comment from JPL-NASA.
The following missions will be different and one of them will repeat the strategy carried out with Mars in the use of robotic devices that are giving great results on the red planet. Davinci will investigate in depth the atmosphere of Venus to try to understand its evolution and finally solve the enigma that a terrestrial planet has an atmosphere so different from that of Earth or Mars. He also hopes it will provide details on tectonics, the planet’s volcanic history (there are believed to be at least 1,600 of them), and the water on Venus.
As to Veritas, it will orbit and explore the planet from its clouds with a state-of-the-art radar that will be able to create a complete 3D map of the entire planet. It also incorporates an infrared spectrometer to investigate the composition of the surface and the internal structure from the core to try to understand an evolution that the Earth may follow.
Both missions are part of NASA’s Discovery program, which aims to bring researchers the opportunity to develop planetary missions that delve into the mysteries of the solar system. Relatively ‘cheap’ as they cost $ 500 million each, ‘these two sister missions aim to discover why Venus became a hellish world and offer the community the opportunity to investigate a planet we have not been to. 30 years, ”NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in the announcement. The return to Venus is scheduled between 2028 and 2030.