Launched in the early 2030s, the mission is set to reveal many secrets about the still mysterious and uninhabitable planet.
NASA recently announced Go back to Venus. The US agency is sending at least two space probes to our nearest neighbors. But they don’t go alone. Because the European Space Agency is now officially announcing its plans for a promising mission for our evil twin sister.
More about Venus
Venus is similar to Earth in many ways. The planet – slightly closer to the Sun – is about the same size and has a similar structure, mass, and density. But the similarities largely end there. Venus is dealing with a dangerous global warming that has spiraled out of control. The thick atmosphere traps all the heat, causing surface temperatures to reach 465°C. In addition, the planet is surrounded by a layer of clouds that is dominated by corrosive sulfuric acid. However, it is believed that it was not always this way. Many scientists believe that Venus is very similar to Earth and even water. If they’re right, the big question is what caused the planet to move in such a different direction at one point and look so different from Earth today.
The ESA mission, called EnVision, consists of an orbiter that will create a better picture of Venus; All the way from the inner core to the upper atmosphere. In this way, the European Space Agency wants to try to discover why the planet – often jokingly called our evil twin sister – and Earth evolved very differently. For example, what did Venus carry in the past that brought the planet to its unpleasant state in the present? Additionally, does this predict the fate of the Earth if it will also suffer the catastrophic global warming effect?
There are a number of important topics on the program during the assignment. For example, the European Space Agency wants to know if Venus is still geologically active, for example, and whether the planet once had an ocean. This, in turn, may provide more knowledge about whether life might exist on Venus. But the task goes further than that. The researchers hope that the mission to our sister planet will also lead to further insight into the evolution of terrestrial planets in general. In this way, we are also expanding our knowledge of Earth-like exoplanets – from which we are now discovering more and more.
EnVision will be equipped with a number of innovative and innovative tools. Consider devices that can detect aquifers and spectrometers to study the atmosphere and the surface. These spectrometers will examine the atmospheric gases and meticulously analyze the surface composition, looking for any changes that may be associated with signs of active volcanoes. Radar provided by NASA will image and map the surface. In addition, the internal structure and gravitational field of Venus will also be examined. All the tools together will eventually create a complete and comprehensive global picture of our sister planet, from the inside out.
This video shows how the instruments aboard EnVision search for Venus. The surface of Venus will be mapped using different radar equipment. In addition, three spectrometers — operating in the ultraviolet and infrared — will track traces of gases in the atmosphere and search for volcanic plumes of gases towering above the cloud tops. Also, they will reveal the composition of the surface. In addition, other instruments will map the planet’s gravitational field.
It promises to be an exciting and promising mission in which we hope to learn a lot about the still-mysterious planet Venus. “A new era awaits us in the exploration of our closest neighbours, but it is very different,” says Guenter Hasinger, Director of the European Space Agency. “Together with the NASA-led Venus missions, we will have a very comprehensive science program in the next decade.”
Other Venus missions
EnVision is a sequel to the European Space Agency’s highly successful Venus Express programme. The space probe orbited Venus between 2006 and 2014. This mission focused primarily on atmospheric research, but also revealed intriguing clues about potential volcanoes. Meanwhile, JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft has taken over and has been studying the atmosphere of Venus since 2015. Soon, EnVision and NASA’s upcoming DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions will soon come. The trio will be the most comprehensive study of Venus ever.
So it promises to be a strong collaboration, where ESA will also show what it can do. “EnVision benefits from the partnership with NASA, bringing together the distinct expertise of both to achieve this ambitious mission,” said Günther. EnVision promotes Europe’s role in scientific exploration of the solar system and beyond. Our growing mission fleet will provide us – and future generations – with the best insights into how our planetary ocean works. This is especially important in an age when we are discovering more and more unique exoplanets.”
The design of the probe and instruments will be completed in the coming period. After this design phase, a European industrial contractor will be selected to build and test EnVision before it is launched on an Ariane 6 rocket. However, we will have to be patient for some time. Because at the earliest, EnVision won’t take off in the sky until 2031. Then it takes about 15 months for the spacecraft to reach Venus and another 16 months for EnVision to settle into orbit around the planet. But then the craft will orbit Venus every 92 minutes at just 220 and 540 kilometers above the surface, in search of our twin sister’s deepest, still-mysterious secrets.
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