NASA is finally returning to Venus. On June 2, 2021, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the agency had selected two winners from the most recent discovery mission competition, both based on the second planet from the sun. NASA has promised to send a spacecraft to explore the planet next door.
Through the data collected by these two Venus missions, called VERITAS and DAVINCI+, planetary scientists can begin to solve one of Venus’s biggest mysteries-an earth-sized rocky planet, but despite these similarities, it still It’s a cruel place. Although it is slightly closer to the sun than to the earth, the runaway greenhouse effect means that the solar system is very hot. The surface temperature is about 465 degrees Celsius, roughly equivalent to the temperature of a self-cleaning oven.
The surface pressure is 90 times that of the Earth’s sea level. Most importantly, the sulfuric acid cloud covered the entire planet and swallowed everything that passed through them. What may surprise you is that Venus was the center of space exploration in the 1960s and 1970s, just like Mars today.
The Soviet Union sent a total of more than 30 spacecraft from the sun to the second planet, but since 1989 it has only sent two missions to Venus, both to explore the atmosphere: the European Space Agency’s Venus Express and Akatsuki from Japan. In contrast, the VERITAS and DAVINCI+ missions will comprehensively examine the geological and climatic history of Venus in two distinct but complementary ways.
Decades of continuous exploration of Mars have shown that each mission has answered previous questions and challenges. I don’t know what surprises VERITAS and DAVINCI + have. They are expected to be available in the late 2020s and will be available on Venus, but I know they will. Reveal aspects that no one on earth can imagine. We are working hard to make the “Venus Decade” a reality all over the world, and we are getting results.
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