Monday, May 20, 2024

NASA announces two missions to Venus

NASA has announced two missions to the planet next door, CBC Radio reports. The first mission, VERITAS, is an orbiter that will help scientists such as Suzanne Smrekar, VERITAS’s principal investigator and geochemist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, get radar images that can penetrate Venus’s clouds and look for chemical signatures. The second mission DAVINCI+ is a chemistry lab probe that will ingest gases on its way to the surface to help unravel the mystery of the key constituents of the atmosphere. VERITAS and DAVINCI+ are scheduled to launch from Earth between 2028 and 2030. There is indirect evidence that Venus might have once had water on its surface and may have more water in its interior than Earth. Smrekar told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald that the spectrometer on VERITAS will be able to determine if there is water vapour on the surface, which she said would be evidence that volcanoes are spewing water from inside the planet.  She said learning about Venus’s past and current geological processes – including the potential existence of plate tectonics and active volcanism – will help us better understand how a planet’s atmosphere can evolve.

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