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After 30 years, NASA sends missions to Venus again

After 30 years, the space agency is planning several trips to Venus. One of the things on the agenda is mapping the planet – a difficult task.

On the second try, NASA has decided to conduct two exploratory missions to Venus to send. They are called Davinci Plus and Vertias. In 2017, the two were already among the finalists, but NASA decided to explore the two asteroids Lucy and Seshi. At the end of this decade, it’s time: Then sister expeditions to a hell-like world begin. Davinci Plus is supposed to investigate the atmosphere. At the same time, Veritas began drawing new maps of the planet. The maps of the Magellan probe in use today date back to the beginning of the 1990s, and probe technology is from the 1980s.

Da Vinci in search of life in the clouds

The weather on sister planet Earth can be described as hellish: the temperature on the surface, averaging over 460°C, is so hot that tin and lead melt there. In addition, there is a pressure of about 92 bar, which is 92 times higher than the pressure on Earth. It roughly corresponds to the pressure at a depth of 900 meters below sea level. However, scientists have found signs of life on this planet. Monophosphene is a product of the decomposition of living things and has been detected in clouds, where temperatures are most pleasant. Davinci Plus can confirm existence without any doubt.

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According to the plan, it will initially fly over Venus twice in 2030 and take measurements. After a year, you’re supposed to drop a probe that analyzes gases for an hour while descending one of the instruments. Principal investigator James B. Whether water leaked from there into space. The measurements could also directly prove monophosphine and spark further discussions about life on the supposedly hostile planet.

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Veritas stands for “Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy.” The mapping mission aims to replace the low-resolution maps of the Magellan probe, which experts say can’t even show an error like the St. Andrews fissure. “We have something like a very coarse topographic map,” explains geophysicist Susan Smirkar, who leads the expedition. Veritas can provide 100 times better measurements than its predecessor. Ultimately, it should result in a high-resolution 3D map. The researchers want to use spectroscopy to learn more about the formation of rocks and thus about volcanoes. Susan Merikar explains that they will also be looking for active volcanoes and emerging waters. “There is an idea that Venus might be dry inside,” says the scientist.

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International interest in the flower

The European Space Agency orbited the twin planet with Venus Express for eight years before the probe burned up in the atmosphere in 2014. In 2018, she and the Japanese space agency Jaxa launched the Mercury Bepicolombo probe, which performed its first oscillating maneuver on Venus on October 15, 2020. The second date is scheduled for the tenth of August. The partners want to test the instruments and examine the atmosphere and ionosphere. The Japanese probe Akatsuki has also been in the orbit of Venus since 2015 and has been observing the planet with its cryogenic infrared cameras. With the Venera program, Russia laid the foundation for tropical Venus research. Between 1961 and 1983, the Soviet Union sent a number of probes and landers to the sister planet as part of the Venera program. In 1970 they landed on Venus for the first time and want to build on the old successes of the Venera-D mission. It should start in 2025. At NASA, a major mission to Venus has not yet been launched, where one or two large balloons would like to operate in the atmosphere.

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