NASA Selects Two Robotics Missions to Study Venus

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Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth & exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures & atmospheric pressure.

NASA Upcoming Missions:-

NASA has selected two new robotics missions to Venus, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbour. Part of NASA’s Discovery Program, the missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours & may have been the first habitable world in the solar system, complete with an ocean & Earth-like climate.

These investigations are the ultimate selections from four mission concepts NASA picked in February 2020 as a part of the agency’s Discovery 2019 competition. Following a competitive, peer-review process, the two missions were chosen based on their potential scientific value & the feasibility of their development plans. The project teams will now work to finalize their requirements, designs & development plans.

NASA is awarding approximately $500 million permission for development. Each is predicted to launch within the 2028 – 2030 timeframe.

The selected missions are:
DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, & Imaging)

DAVINCI+ will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it formed & evolved, as well as determine whether the planet ever had an ocean. The mission consists of a descent sphere that will plunge through the planet’s thick atmosphere, making precise measurements of noble gases & other elements to understand why Venus’ atmosphere is a runaway hothouse compared to the Earth’s.

In addition, DAVINCI+ will return the primary high-resolution pictures of the unique geological features on Venus referred to as “tesserae,” which can be like Earth’s continents, suggesting that Venus has tectonics. This would be the first U.S.-led mission to Venus’ atmosphere since 1978 & the results from DAVINCI+ could reshape our understanding of terrestrial planet formation in our solar system & beyond. James Garvin of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is that the PI. Goddard provides project management.

VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography & Spectroscopy)

VERITAS will map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history & understand why it developed so differently than Earth. Orbiting Venus with a synthetic aperture radar, VERITAS will chart surface elevations over nearly the entire planet to create 3D reconstructions of topography & confirm whether processes such as plate tectonics and volcanism are still active on Venus.

VERITAS also will map infrared emissions from Venus’ surface to map its rock type, which is largely unknown & determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapour into the atmosphere. Suzanne Smrekar of NASA’s reaction propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is that the PI. JPL provides project management. The German Aerospace Center will provide the infrared mapper with the Italian Space Agency and France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales contributing to the radar & other parts of the mission.

“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

“Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed & refined over many years of missions & technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse. Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets & habitability in our own solar system, but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting & emerging area of research for NASA.”

Zurbuchen added that he expects powerful synergies across NASA’s science programs, including the James Webb Space Telescope. He anticipates data from these missions are going to be employed by the broadest possible cross-section of the scientific community.

“It is astounding how little we all know about Venus, but the combined results of those missions will tell us about the earth from the clouds in its sky through the volcanoes on its surface all the way right down to its very core,” said Tom Wagner, NASA’s Discovery Program scientist. “It are going to be as if we’ve rediscovered the earth .”

In addition to the 2 missions, NASA selected a pair of technology demonstrations to fly along side them. VERITAS will host the region Atomic Clock-2, built by JPL & funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The ultra-precise clock signal generated with this technology will ultimately help enable autonomous spacecraft maneuvers & enhance radio science observations.

DAVINCI+ will host the Compact Ultraviolet to Visible Imaging Spectrometer (CUVIS) built by Goddard. CUVIS will make high-resolution measurements of ultraviolet employing a new instrument supported freeform optics. These observations are going to be wont to determine the character of the unknown ultraviolet absorber in Venus’ atmosphere that absorbs up to half the incoming solar power.

Established in 1992, NASA’s Discovery Program has supported the development & implementation of over 20 missions & instruments. These selections are a part of the ninth Discovery Program competition.

The concepts were chosen from proposals submitted in 2019 under NASA Announcement of Opportunity NNH19ZDA010O. The selected investigations are going to be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as a part of the invention Program. The Discovery Program conducts space science investigations within the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The goals of the program are to supply frequent opportunities for principal investigator-led investigations in planetary sciences which will be accomplished under a not-to-exceed cost cap.

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