NASA will send two new missions to Venus to learn more about how the planet’s hellish atmosphere became so hostile because of its history.
The announcement was made Wednesday (June 2) during a live broadcast of NASA Administrator Bill Nelson’s speech on the state of NASA. The two missions, named DAVINCI + and VERITAS, were selected from NASA’s shortlist of four spacecraft for next round of Discovery missions; two other contenders have visited Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io and Neptune’s largest moon Triton.
DAVINCI + (short for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Visualization) will dive through the thick Atmosphere of Venus to learn more about changes over time. Meanwhile, the VERITAS mission (Venus emissivity, radioscience, InSAR, topography and spectroscopy) will use radar to map Venus’ surface in detail from orbit.
Connected: Photos of Venus, the mysterious planet next door
“We hope these missions will improve our understanding of how the Earth has evolved and why it is currently habitable while others in our solar system are not,” Nelson said, referring to NASA’s recent reorientation. changing of the climate under the direction of US President Joe Biden, who took office in January.
“Planetary science is critical to answering key questions that arise for us as humans, such as are we alone? What implications outside of our solar system could these two missions have? [show]? This is really exciting stuff, ”Nelson said.
Discovery has a maximum mission volume of $ 500 million, excluding launch vehicle costs and mission operations. Both new missions to Venus will launch between 2028 and 2030 and will include a demonstration of technology, as well as key scientific components, by NASA. said in a press release…
VERITAS will host Deep Space Atomic Clock-2, the successor to similar technology that launched into low-earth orbit in June 2019. “The ultra-precise clock generated by this technology will ultimately help autonomous spacecraft maneuver and improve radiological surveillance,” NASA said.
The agency added that DAVINCI + will host a Compact Ultraviolet Visible Imaging Spectrometer (CUVIS) that will measure ultraviolet light at high resolution using a new instrument based on free-form optics, NASA officials wrote. the nature of the unknown ultraviolet absorber in the atmosphere of Venus, which absorbs up to half of the incoming solar energy.
Connected: Venus, once called Earth’s twin, is a greenhouse (and a teasing target in search of life)
NASA’s speech was a little new, as it hinted at the science of climate change, the Artemis moon landing program, and other recent statements from the Biden administration. Nelson was sworn in as administrator May 3 and career space politician began his speech with anecdotes from his six-day flight to space shuttle Colombia in 1986.
He used these memories of the fragility of the Earth to reimagine Earth System Observatory The agency said last week it would develop a system to combat global warming. “Anyone who has flown [in space]or whoever sees these dramatic photographs and videos, you are looking at the end of the earth and you can actually see a thin film of the atmosphere, ”Nelson said. “You understand that this is what sustains all life … and you could see from such a height how we ruined everything.”
The new observatory system includes five planned satellites, the first of which will launch in 2023, Nelson said. He hinted that there will be more news on climatology. “The Earth System Observatory is just one of many missions on the horizon, and I am delighted to share more about the exciting future here at NASA,” he said.
The new administrator also paid tribute to the mission of the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on February 18 and helped launch the Ingenuity drone for the first flights to Mars. “Since then, we’ve created oxygen on Mars and have seen Ingenuity — this little helicopter — overcome odds and outlive its planned lifespan. It has gone from a technical demonstration to an intelligence demonstration, ”Nelson said. (Ingenuity experienced an anomaly on his last flightbut landed safely.)
Other NASA activities reported by Nelson included the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope “in just a few months” (NASA and its mission partner, the European Space Agency, announced on Tuesday (June 1) that the mission may be postponed for several weeks until November) start of commercial crew program in 2020 and the ongoing development of the Artemis lunar landing program.
Nelson said nothing about the 2024 lunar landing deadline originally proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration; During a press conference held on Friday (May 28), NASA Chief Financial Officer Steve Shinn admitted that dates can be rescheduled, “Because space exploration is so difficult.” Instead, Nelson focused on the goal of the program – to place the first woman and new announcement from April) the first colored face on the moon. “The United States must and will continue to lead the world not only in intelligence but also in equity participation,” he said.
The address was also recorded with a pre-recorded episodic video from Captain William Shatner, best known as Captain James T. Kirk of the Trekkies, the captain of Star Trek: The Original Series, mostly reflecting on “why we exist” and NASA’s quest to find in the Universe a habitable environment. …
While this is Nelson’s first serious appeal as an administrator, other priorities came to the fore during his speech. first congressional hearing two weeks ago as he promised to take action on Artemis and China’s recent actions on the Moon and Mars. China’s quest for “space supremacy” also manifested itself during a Senate hearing this month pay attention to former astronaut Pam Melroy nomination as Deputy Administrator for NASA.
Nelson’s speech today did not mention the problematic Artemis Human Landing System (HLS) design. Contract competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics have protested the award what contract with SpaceX in April; During Nelson’s confirmation hearing, Senators pushed him to the importance of having several different systems to ensure competitive results. The US Government Audit Office is to decide by August 4 whether NASA should award a second contract to build a second back-up HLS.
Nelson also did not talk about commercial LEO, for which Biden received $ 101.1 million in a fiscal 2022 budget request that begins in October. The cost has increased by almost 500% over the previous year. Participation in International space station remains a priority for the new administration; Biden’s $ 1.3 million budget request is roughly equivalent to the 2021 appropriation.
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