NASA, the U.S. federal government agency, is reportedly planning to return to Venus with two ambitious deep space missions during 2028-2030.
The upcoming missions will mark the first return of the agency since 1989 to conduct research studies on the history of the second planet from the Sun, which could have been the 1st habitable planet in the solar system.
The space agency has set aside $1 billion (£700 million) in developmental funding for the U.S. explorations of the planet in more than 3 decades. In 1994, the Magellan spacecraft was launched into the oblivion of its atmosphere at the end of a 5-year mission to gain the never-before-seen imagery of its cratered and volcanic surface.
According to the lead scientist of the discovery program at NASA, Tom Wagner, there is limited information currently available about the planet. The upcoming missions are expected to deliver data about its thick clouds and volcanoes on the surface all the way down to the very core.
Davinci+ is the first-ever mission selected by the agency from a shortlist of 4 concepts announced in February 2020, designed to conduct a deep atmosphere investigation of Venus’ noble gases, imaging, and chemistry. The mission is expected to conduct the measurement of the composition of its atmosphere to gain a better understanding of the planet’s formation as well as determine the availability of any ocean. In addition, it will capture high-resolution pictures of tesserae, its geological features.
Veritas, the 2nd mission, is anticipated to map the surface of Venus to determine its geologic history and understand its distinct development from the Earth. This will enable the creation of 3D reconstructions of its topography and offer clues about the volcanic activity on its surface. As per Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, the agency is also extending its focus beyond the evolution of planets & habitability in the solar system to exoplanets.