NASA announces plans to launch two new missions to Venus, its first in decades

The two missions are dubbed as DAVINCI+ (short for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy).

Created On: Jun 5, 2021 11:32 ISTModified On: Jun 5, 2021 11:32 IST
NASA Venus Mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) on June 2, 2021, announced its plans of launching two new scientific missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030.

The two missions to the Earth’s so-called sister planet by NASA will be it's first one in decades and will study the atmosphere and geologic features of the planet.

As per the Space Agency of the United States, it was awarding about $500m for the development of each of the two missions.

They are dubbed as DAVINCI+ (short for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy).

What will be the work of DAVINCI+ and VERITAS?

DAVINCI+

It will measure the composition of the dense Venusian atmosphere and will seek to improve the understanding of how it evolved.

DAVINCI+ will also consist of a fly-by spacecraft and an atmospheric descent probe. It is expected to return the first high-resolution images of the unique geological characteristics on Venus called ‘tesserae’. Scientists have believed that those features may be comparable to the continents of Earth and suggest that Venus has plate tectonics.

VERITAS

It will map the surface of Venus from orbit to help in determining its geological history and why it was developed so differently from Earth.

Venus: Earth’s closest planetary neighbour

Venus is the second planet from the sun and is Earth’s closest planetary neighbour. It is similar in structure to Earth but slightly smaller, with a diameter of about 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles).

Above Venus’s foreboding landscape lies a toxic, thick atmosphere that consists primarily of carbon dioxide, along with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets. It results in a runaway greenhouse effect that bakes the surface of the planet at temperatures as high as 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 Celsius), which is hot enough to melt lead.

Venus has also lately received less scientific attention than Mars and other solar system destinations.

While announcing the mission, NASA’s associated administrator for science stated that NASA will be reviving the planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA has not visited in over 30 years.

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