DAVINCI +, the mission that will investigate how Venus stopped being habitable

Although the Land Y Venus They are similar in size, mass and distance to the Sun, they are very different worlds today. While the Earth has oceans of water and abundant life, Venus is dry and fiercely inhospitable. Although Venus is only slightly closer to the Sun than Earth (70% of the distance from the Sun) Venus is much hotter than it should be from Earth. The temperatures on the surface of Venus are so high that, for example, lead cannot exist in a solid state. The charred landscape is obscured by clouds of sulfuric acid. The thick atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide has more than 90 times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere, causing its “air” near the surface to behave more like a water-like fluid than a gas.

However, scientists believe that in an earlier time, Venus may have been more like Earth, a world with oceans of water what was potentially fit for life, perhaps for more than a billion years. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that something caused a greenhouse effect unstoppable in the atmosphere of Venus, raising the temperature and vaporizing its oceans.

DAVINCI + (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus) is a NASA mission to explore Venus to determine if it was habitable in the past and to understand how Venus and Earth, being worlds so similar, ended up generating environments so different.

“Venus is a ‘Rosetta stone’ to read the ‘log books’ of climate change, the evolution of habitability and what happens when a planet stops having oceans on the surface after a long period of loss,” he explains James Garvin, principal investigator of the DAVINCI + science team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, United States. “But Venus is ‘hard to read’, as each clue is hidden behind the curtain of a thick, opaque atmosphere with inhospitable conditions for surface exploration, so we have to sharpen our wits and bring our best investigative tools. scientific to Venus in an innovative way, with missions like DAVINCI +. That is why we have baptized our mission as ‘DAVINCI +’, in honor of the inspired and visionary Renaissance thought of Leonardo da Vinci, who went beyond science to connect with engineering, technology and even art. “

DAVINCI + ‘s descent probe during its last kilometers of free fall towards the surface of Venus. (Illustration: NASA GSFC / CI Labs / Michael Lentz and others)

DAVINCI + will consist of a spacecraft and a descent vehicle. From space, the spacecraft will track the movements of the clouds and map the composition of the surface by measuring the emission from the surface of Venus of heat that escapes into space through the atmosphere. The descent probe will dive into the atmosphere, taking samples of its chemistry, as well as temperature, pressure and winds. It will also take the first high-resolution photos of Alpha Regio, a mountainous region twice the size of Texas with rugged peaks, looking for evidence that water in the planetary crust influenced surface materials.

DAVINCI + is scheduled to launch into space around 2030.

The spacecraft will make two flybys of Venus before releasing the descent probe. The flybys are the initial phase of the remote sensing mission to study atmospheric circulation and map the composition of the surface. It will take about an hour for the descent probe to descend through Venus’s atmosphere to touch down in the Alpha Regio area. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)

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