NASA describes Venus as a planet with “a thick, poisonous atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and constantly surrounded by thick yellowish clouds made primarily of sulfuric acid that trap heat and cause an uncontrollable greenhouse effect. It is the hottest planet in our solar system, even though Mercury is closer to the sun. Venus has an overwhelming atmospheric pressure on its surface – over 90 times the pressure of the earth – similar to the pressure you would encounter on Earth a mile under the ocean. It makes you want to go …
But despite the extreme hostility of this planet, the US space agency plans to return there. It’s been over 30 years since NASA organized a fact-finding mission to Venus. Today the agency just announced the upcoming launch of two DAVINCI + and VERITAS missions.
A first for over 30 years
DAVINCI +, slated to launch in 2029, will be the first U.S.-led mission into Venus’ atmosphere since Pioneer Venus 1 in 1978. In the meantime, NASA sent a Magellan space probe in 1989, which was the first detailed map of the surface of Venus.
The objective of the DAVINCI + mission is to drop a probe into the atmosphere of Venus in order to collect data on the composition of the atmosphere during its approximately 1 hour descent to Earth and to take photos of the mosaic stones (specifically geological formations for Venus) .
However, DAVINCI + could be overtaken by VERITAS, which is slated for 2028. His goal will be similar to what Magellan has been doing for 4 years since 1989. Thanks to new technologies that have emerged over the past 32 years, VERITAS has to 3D reconstruct the topography of the planet and confirm whether processes such as plate tectonics and volcanism are still active on Venus.
In its statement, NASA states that “these two sister missions are both aimed at understanding how Venus became a hell-like world capable of melting lead to the surface”.