NASA has officially announced that it's sending two new missions to Venus in order to explore the conditions prevailing on the neighboring planet.
The DAVINCI + and VERITAS missions are part of NASA’s Discovery program and will take place from 2028 to 2030. The purpose of the missions is to understand why Venus is permanently covered with dense clouds when it’s similar in size to Earth. In fact, Venus may have been the first habitable planet in the Solar System.
The official name of the mission is Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging and includes a spherical spacecraft that will penetrate the dense atmosphere of Venus to make accurate measurements of noble gases and other elements in order to understand why Venus’ atmosphere is a runaway hothouse compared the Earth’s. DAVINCI+ mission would be the first mission to Venus since 1978, and the results could reshape our understanding of terrestrial planet formation in our solar system and beyond.
VERITAS mission’s official name is Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy and it will attempt to map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history and understand why it developed so differently than Earth. VERITAS also will map infrared emissions from Venus’ surface to map its rock type, which is largely unknown, and determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.
“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse. Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets and habitability in our own solar system, but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting and emerging area of research for NASA.”