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NASA announces two new missions to Venus

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

NASA announces two new missions to Venus:


Context:

The last US probe to visit the planet was the Magellan orbiter in 1990.

Now, NASA has announced two new missions to Venus. These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world, capable of melting lead at the surface. These include:

1. Davinci+:

The Davinci+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) mission will:

  • Measure the planet’s atmosphere to gain insight into how it formed and evolved.
  • Determine whether Venus ever had an ocean.
  • Return the first high resolution images of the planet’s “tesserae” geological features (These features could be comparable to continents on Earth).

2. Veritas (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy):

This mission will map the planet’s surface to understand its geological history and investigate how it developed so differently than Earth.

  • It will use a form of radar to chart surface elevations and discover whether volcanoes and earthquakes are still happening.

About Venus:

  • Venus is the second planet from the sun and the hottest planet in the solar system with a surface temperature of 500C – high enough to melt lead.
  • The planet’s thick atmosphere has cranked the surface pressure up to 90 bars.
  • A single Venusian rotation takes 243.0226 Earth days. That means a day lasts longer than a year on Venus, which makes a complete orbit around the sun in 225 Earth days.
  • The Venusian planetary core has a diameter of about 4,360 miles (7,000 km), comparable to Earth’s core.
  • Venus is one of just two planets that rotate from east to west. Only Venus and Uranus have this “backwards” rotation.

Historic missions to Venus:

  1. Magellan – a Nasa mission that ended in 1994.
  2. Venus Express A European mission- focused on atmospheric science.
  3. Akatsuki Japanese spacecraft- focused on atmospheric science.

Future missions:

The European Space Agency (Esa) is evaluating a Venus mission, called EnVision, alongside two astronomy proposals – Theseus and Spica. Other concepts are also being proposed to Nasa.

 

Insta Curious:

  1. Did you know that it was the Soviet Union that started missions to Venus in the 1960s? Read here
  2. Do you know, astronomers are considering an extraordinary possibility of life floating in the clouds of Venus? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key facts related to Venus.
  2. Why is it called earth’s twin?
  3. About the latest missions announced by NASA.
  4. Previous historic missions.
  5. Venus vs Earth- comparison.

Mains Link:

Discuss why NASA’s latest missions to Venus are significant.

Sources: the Hindu.