For The First Time in Over 30 Years, NASA Is Traveling To Venus

We’ll face it: when it comes to our planetary neighbours, we’ve been a touch one-sided. The surface of Mars is well-studied by international space organisations, with rovers crawling all over it and orbiters circling it from above. But what about Venus? NASA, on the other hand, hasn’t been there in 30 years. All of that is about to change as the “inferno-like” planet shines. NASA has announced two missions to Venus as part of its Discovery Program: Davinci+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and Veritas (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy).

From 1989 until 1994, the agency’s last mission to Venus was Magellan, in which an orbiter used radar to scan the planet’s surface. NASA’s focus has mostly shifted since then to the quest for life on Mars. Last year, though, scientists discovered phosphine, a possible evidence of life on Venus (or, more precisely, in Venus’ thick, sulfuric atmosphere, which is corrosive enough to disintegrate a human body in minutes).

Davinci+ will look into this further, researching the chemical makeup of Venus’ atmosphere to see how a planet so similar to Earth could turn into a true hellscape with an average surface temperature of 880 degrees Fahrenheit. Davinci+ will also take high-resolution photographs of Venus’ surface in order to investigate its geological features, which are strikingly similar to those on Earth (some scientists even consider Venus to be Earth’s evil twin).

Veritas, on the other hand, will study Venus’ surface in order to produce 3D topographic reconstructions while also looking for infrared emissions that could signal active volcanoes on the planet. “It’s amazing how little we know about Venus,” Tom Wagner, a NASA Discovery Program scientist, said in a statement. “But the combined results of these missions will tell us about the planet from the clouds in its sky to the volcanoes on its surface all the way down to its very core.” “It’ll be like though we’ve discovered the planet all over again.”

Davinci+ and Veritas are set to launch between 2028 and 2030, and they’re hoped to spur future Venusian investigation — as well as other planetary investigations. “We’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet may become a hothouse, using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has built and polished through many years of missions and technology programmes. Our objectives are significant “NASA’s assistant administrator for science, Thomas Zurbuchen, acknowledged as much. “It’s not just about understanding the evolution of planets and their habitability in our own solar system; it’s also about expanding beyond these bounds to exoplanets, which is an exciting and burgeoning field of NASA research.”

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