NASA and SpaceX have their sights set on the Moon and Mars. But that is not incompatible with other objectives. In fact, the American space agency has selected two new missions to visit Venus. The last mission to the second planet in the US solar system was in 1978 and these new satellites are not expected to be sent to the neighboring planet before the end of this decade.
DAVINCI + and VERITAS are the two missions selected within the Discovery program NASA, as the agency explains in a press release. They were chosen “based on their potential scientific value and the viability of your development plans. The project teams will now work to finalize their requirements, designs and development plans, “they add. This program seeks to” understand how Venus became a hellish world “and whether it may have been” the first habitable world in the solar system, with an ocean and a climate similar to that of Earth, “says the space agency.
NASA’s last mission to Venus was in 1978
The budget for each of the missions round the $ 500 million and they could launch between 2028 and 2030, if all goes according to plan by NASA. Always bear in mind that there may be delays due to the complexity of the missions. As the time approaches, we will learn more about the mission.
DAVINCI + and VERITAS
The DAVINCI + mission (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) will be in charge of making measurements of the atmosphere. With these data we can know how it was formed and how it has evolved, we can also determine if there was ever an ocean on Venus. “The mission consists of a sphere of descent that will plunge through the planet’s thick atmosphere, making precise measurements of the noble gases and other elements to understand why the atmosphere of Venus is a runaway greenhouse compared to that of Earth, “explains NASA.
For its part, VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) “will map the surface of Venus to determine the geological history of the planet and understand why it developed so differently from Earth“Despite being very similar. This mission is going to map the surface” to create 3D reconstructions of the topography and confirm whether processes such as plate tectonics and volcanism are still active on Venus. “
“It is surprising how little we know about venus, but the combined results of these missions will inform us about the planet, from the clouds in its sky to its core, passing through the volcanoes on its surface, “explains Tom Wagner, a scientist with NASA’s Discovery Program, in the statement. “It will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”
Venus, a hellish version of Earth
Venus is Earth’s infernal neighbor. Both planets are similar and, at the same time, too different. We cannot forget that Venus is an inhospitable place, but that it has been the subject of study in the past year. The study that affirmed the possibility of life, although later it seems that it was discarded, has put Venus in the center of conversation. What if we could find life in a hellish place like this neighboring planet? For now everything is hypothesis and there is nothing proven. But to know more about Venus we need, precisely, new missions to the second planet in the solar system.
In short, like knowing Mars better; the new Venus information will be essential to understand how the different planets have evolved and if there has been life on them.