These two sister missions aim to understand how Venus became a hell-like world, where lead melts at the surface, says newly appointed NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
One of the projects has been named Davinci plus and will deeply analyze the dense atmosphere of Venus, which is mainly composed of carbon dioxide. A probe will be sent through the atmosphere and clouds of sulfuric acid, to measure the presence of noble gases and other elements and thus find out how the atmosphere formed.
The mission will also attempt to determine if there is an ocean on Venus.
Davinci plus will also capture the first high-resolution images of Venus’ unique geological terrain called tessera, which is roughly comparable to Earth’s continents.
The second project is named Veritas, in which a probe in orbit around Venus will map the planet’s surface to determine its geological history. With the help of some kind of radar and infrared, you will find out, among other things, whether there are active volcanoes on the planet and whether there are earthquakes.
Germany, Italy and France are participating in the project.
“It’s surprising how little we know about Venus, but the combined results of these expeditions will give us answers to everything from clouds to volcanoes to just its core,” says Tom Wagner, a NASA researcher.
The last time a NASA spacecraft orbited Venus was in 1990, but another spacecraft has circled the planet since then.
Fact: the flower
Venus is the closest planet to Earth and is about the same size. It is visible from Earth in the morning. It is the closest planet to the sun (after Mercury).
Venus rotates slowly on its axis, in the opposite direction to the Earth and most other planets, and the day of Venus is 243 Earth days.
Since a year on Venus corresponds to 225 Earth days, this means that a day on Venus is longer than a year.
The surface is solid with a volcanic landscape with extended plains. The temperature is around 465 °C (425 at night). The fact that clouds consist of sulfuric acid makes it less hospitable.
Venus is named after the goddess of love in Roman mythology.
Sources: NASA, NE, Nature