June 15, 2021

Two new Venus exploration missions planned by NASA

NASA announced, Wednesday, June 2, two new exploration missions to Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, to try to better understand why it has become the “Hellish world” what it is today when its neighbor, the Earth, has become habitable.

These two missions, called Davinci + and Veritas, should take off “In the period 2028-2030”, said the US Space Agency in a press release. “They will allow the scientific community to study a planet where we have not been for thirty years”NASA’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, said during an annual address to space agency staff.

“There is Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun, which has no atmosphere. Then there is Venus, with an incredibly dense atmosphere. Then there is the Earth, with a habitable atmosphere ”, he listed. “We hope that these missions will allow us to better understand how the Earth evolved, and why it is currently habitable, when others [planètes] are not. “

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Composition of the atmosphere and geological history

Image of the planet Venus taken with data from the Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter.

Davinci + will have to measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere, and determine if it ever had an ocean. “The mission consists of a sphere which will plunge into the thick atmosphere of the planet, making precise measurements of noble gases and other elements”, explained NASA.

Veritas will have to study the geological history of the planet, being placed in orbit around it. The mission should “Trace the reliefs over almost the entire surface of the planet in order to create a 3D reconstruction of the topography, and confirm whether processes such as tectonics or volcanism are still at work”, according to NASA. Veritas will also need to determine if active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.

Bill Nelson has also confirmed that Artemis 1, the first mission of the United States’ return to the moon program, will be launched. “Later this year”.

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The World with AFP