NASA hasn’t headed to Venus since 1990. The US space agency is now planning two new missions. They are supposed to reveal one of the greatest secrets of the heavenly body.
NASA has announced two new missions to Venus. DaVinci+ and Veritas should launch between 2028 and 2030 to neighboring planet Earth, NASA announced Wednesday. The missions were funded by about $500 million as part of NASA’s Discovery Program. The goal is to find out why Venus turned out to be an uninhabitable place unlike Earth.
“The two sister missions aim to understand how Venus became a hell-like world capable of melting lead on the surface,” said Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator. DaVinci+ will investigate the planet’s atmosphere, while Veritas will map the surface of Venus from orbit.
The DaVinci+ mission consists of a sphere that is supposed to dive into the atmosphere of Venus and measure the content of gases and other elements. Scientists hope this will shed light on the question of why there is such a strong greenhouse effect on the planet. It is also being investigated whether the planet has an ocean. In addition, DaVinci+ will investigate geological features on Venus that are similar to plate tectonics on Earth.
Venus as a warning
The goal of Mission Veritas is to map the surface of Venus and thus investigate the geological history of the planet. A three-dimensional image is created with the help of some kind of radar. Scientists want, among other things, to find out whether volcanoes are still active on this planet.
The German Aerospace Center is also involved in the mission led by NASA, as well as Italy and France. The last time NASA explored Venus was in 1990 with the Magellan Space Probe.
The conditions on Venus are not considered favorable for the existence of life. Temperatures on the planet can reach 500 degrees Celsius. The atmosphere of Venus consists almost exclusively of carbon dioxide and therefore creates a strong greenhouse effect.
Astronomers are interested in Venus because of its relatively short distance from Earth and its similar size. Some experts even take Venus as a warning about how unsuitable the Earth will be if global warming progresses.