Washington | NASA on Wednesday announced two new exploratory missions to Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, in an effort to better understand why it turned into the “world of hell” it is today when its neighbor Earth became habitable.
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The US space agency said in a press release that these two missions, called Davinci+ and Veritas, should launch “in the period 2028-2030”.
“They will allow the scientific community to study a planet we haven’t been on for 30 years,” new NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an annual address to agency staff.
“There is Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, which has no atmosphere. Then there is Venus with an incredibly dense atmosphere. Then there is Earth with a habitable atmosphere.” “We hope that these missions will allow us to better understand how the Earth evolved, and why it is currently habitable, while other (planets) are not.”
Davinci+ will have to measure the composition of Venus’s atmosphere, and determine if it has an ocean.
“The mission consists of a ball that will plunge into the planet’s thick atmosphere, and make accurate measurements of the noble gases and other elements,” NASA explained.
Veritas will have to study the geological history of the planet, as it is placed in orbit around it.
The mission will have to “track almost the entire surface of the planet inscriptions in order to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the topography, and confirm whether processes such as tectonics or volcanism are still operating,” according to NASA.
Veritas will also need to determine if active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.
Bill Nelson also confirmed that Artemis 1, the first mission of the United States’ return to the Moon program, will be launched “later this year.”