NASA’s new spacecraft could carry out unprecedented missions to Venus

NASA’s new spacecraft could carry out unprecedented missions to Venus

NASA will launch a mission to fly by Venus. The spacecraft is expected to touch down in the planet’s hostile atmosphere in 2029. Named DAVINCI, an acronym for “Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases Chemistry and Imaging,” which translates to “Investigate the Venus atmosphere,” the mission will be the first to study Venus through flybys and descents.

The spacecraft is expected to explore Venus’ layered atmosphere and reach its surface in June 2031. The DAVINCI mission will be able to capture data about Venus that scientists have been eager to measure since the early 1980s.

Only two NASA missions have ever visited the second-closest planet to our sun—Pioneer in 1978 and Magellan in the early 1990s.

The spacecraft will essentially function as a flight chemistry laboratory, capable of measuring different aspects of Venus’ atmosphere and climate, and taking the first descending images of Venus’ highlands.

The mission’s instruments will also be able to map the surface of Venus and detect the composition of Venus’ mountains.

According to NASA scientists, these features, known as “tesserae,” may be similar to Earth’s continents, meaning Venus may have plate tectonics.

“This set of chemical, environmental and descent imaging data will map Venus’ layered atmosphere and how it interacts with the surface of the Alpha Regio Mountains, which is twice the size of Texas,” said DAVINCI Director Jim Garvin. and investigators at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.

“These measurements will allow us to assess historical aspects of the atmosphere and detect special types of rocks on the surface, such as granite, while also looking for landscape features that tell us about erosion or other formation processes.”

The program will also investigate the possibility that Venus had an ocean in the past by measuring the composition of gases and water in the deepest part of the atmosphere. Venus may have been the first habitable world in our solar system, including an ocean and climate similar to Earth’s — but something happened that turned it into a planet hot enough to melt lead.

According to a 2019 study, Venus may have maintained a stable temperature and liquid water for billions of years before an event triggered dramatic changes on Earth. Study author Michael Way of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science in New York also co-authored a 2016 study of Venus’ past climate and oceans.

Venus is now a near-dead planet with a toxic atmosphere 90 times thicker than our parent star and a surface temperature of 462 degrees Celsius.

Because DAVINCI will have to fly by Venus multiple times, it will use two instruments to study the clouds and map the highlands from orbit. The vehicle will then launch a descent probe that will bring five instruments to the ground.

The descent will take about an hour, and the probe will be protected with a heat shield until it is about 67 kilometers above the surface. It then discards the shield to sample and analyze atmospheric gases. The descent probe will also capture hundreds of images once the clouds have cleared 30,500 meters above Venus’ surface.

“The spacecraft will land in the Alpharegio Mountains, but it will not need to be operational once it lands, as all necessary scientific data will be available before it arrives,” Goddard’s deputy principal investigator Stephanie Getty said in a statement. collected before the surface.” “If we land at about 25 miles per hour (11 m/s), under ideal conditions, we can do ground work for up to 17 to 18 minutes.”

Source: CNN Brazil

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