The spacecraft is expected to explore the layers of Venus’s atmosphere and reach its surface by June 2031. The DAVINCI mission will be able to capture data about Venus that scientists have been keen to measure since the early 1980s.
The DAVINCI spacecraft will primarily serve as a flying chemistry laboratory that can measure various aspects of Venus’s atmosphere and climate and capture the first images of the planet’s high-altitude landings. The mission’s instruments will also be able to map the surface of Venus and discover the composition of the mountain-like heights of Venus.
These features, called “tesserae,” may be similar to the continents on Earth, which means Venus may have plate tectonics, according to NASA scientists.
“This set of chemistry, ecology, and lineage imaging data will paint a picture of Venus’s atmospheric layers and how they interact with the surface in the Alpha Reggio Mountains, which are twice the size of Texas,” said Jim Garvin, Director of DAVINCI. An investigator from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.
“These measurements will allow us to assess historical aspects of the atmosphere as well as detect special rock types at the surface such as granite while also looking for landscape features that can tell us about erosion or other formative processes.”
The initiative will also investigate the possibility of an ocean in Venus’ past by measuring gases and water components in the deepest part of the atmosphere. Venus may have been the first habitable world in our solar system, with an ocean and Earth-like climate — but something happened that turned it into a planet with temperatures high enough to melt lead.
Now, Venus is a mostly dead planet with a toxic atmosphere 90 times thicker than Earth and surface temperatures of 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius).
Since DAVINCI flies close to Venus multiple times, it will use two tools to study clouds and map altitudes from orbit. Next, a lander carrying five instruments will fall all the way to the surface.
The descent will take about an hour and a heat shield will be used to protect the probe up to about 42 miles (67 kilometers) above the surface. Next, he’ll scrape off the shield to sample and analyze atmospheric gases. The lander will also take hundreds of images once it scans the clouds of Venus 100,000 feet (30,500 meters) above the surface.
“The probe will reach the Alpha Regio mountains, but it is not required to operate once it has landed, as all required scientific data will be taken before reaching the surface,” said Stephanie Getty, deputy principal investigator from Goddard. statement. “If we survived a landing at about 25 mph (11 m/sec), we could perform up to 17-18 minutes of operations on the surface under ideal conditions.”
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