The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that it is planning to launch two new scientific missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030. It would be the first mission in decades to solar system's hottest planet.
The US space agency said it was awarding about $500m for development of each of the two missions, dubbed DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy).
First mission named DaVinci Plus will analyse the thick, cloudy Venusian atmosphere in an attempt to determine whether the inferno planet ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable.
However, a small craft will plunge through the atmosphere to measure the gases.
The other mission, Veritas, will seek a geologic history by mapping the rocky planet’s surface.
In today's #StateOfNASA address, we announced two new @NASASolarSystem missions to study the planet Venus, which we haven't visited in over 30 years! DAVINCI+ will analyze Venus’ atmosphere, and VERITAS will map Venus’ surface. pic.twitter.com/yC5Etbpgb8— NASA (@NASA) June 2, 2021
The space agency's new administrator, Bill Nelson during his first major address to employees Wednesday stated, “These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface”.
It will be the first US-led mission to the Venusian atmosphere since 1978.
WE’RE GOING TO #VENUS!!— David Grinspoon (@DrFunkySpoon) June 2, 2021
I’ve been pushing for this for literally my entire career. Last U.S. Venus mission launched in 1989, year I finished grad school.
So much to learn about climate, history of Earth-like worlds & life in the universe.
I can’t describe how thrilled I am. 🚀 🚀 pic.twitter.com/UPt0uqPU6I
The missions beat out two other proposed projects, to Jupiter's moon Io and Neptune's icy moon Triton.
Moreover, the US and the former Soviet Union sent multiple spacecraft to Venus in the early days of space exploration.
NASA’s Magellan spacecraft, which reached Venus in 1990, made the first global map of the Venusian surface as well as global maps of the planet’s gravity field.
In 1994, the Magellan spacecraft was sent to plunge into the surface of Venus to gather data on its atmosphere before it ceased operations.
NASA used a space shuttle to send its Magellan spacecraft into orbit around Venus, in 1989
The European Space Agency put a spacecraft around Venus in 2006.