About a week after the announcement of the US Space Agency (NASA) that it will send the missions Veritas and Davinci to the nearest planet Earth, Venus +, came the announcement from the European Space Agency (ESA) that it decided to send the Envision spacecraft to the hot and suffocating planet.
The three robotic missions, which are considered complementary, will be implemented within the 2030s, with the European Envision scheduled to launch a European Ariane 6 rocket after the US, between 2031-2033, and reach Aphrodite in 2034 or 2035. Together the three missions will allow scientists to obtain the most complete picture yet of the relatively ignored Venus.
According to AMPE, the Envision spacecraft, which is expected to cost around 550 million euros, will be put into orbit around the planet (it will not attempt to land) and will study its geology, from its core to the upper atmosphere. The aim is to provide a holistic picture, so that more light falls on why Venus and Earth, once considered twins, having about the same size and composition, evolved so differently.
It is estimated that at some point Venus experienced an out-of-control “greenhouse effect” which led to a dramatic climate change, which made it an uninhabitable “hell” with temperatures up to 450 degrees Celsius melting even metals, a toxic atmosphere and tremendous pressures on its surface (90 times greater than those in Earth). Questions that, among other things, need to be answered by Envision, which will have advanced radar (manufactured by NASA), spectrometers and other European scientific instruments, are whether Venus remains geologically active, as well as whether it once had an ocean or life forms.
Venus was preceded by the European Venus Express mission (2005-2014) which focused on atmospheric research, the Japanese Akatsuki (still studying the atmosphere since 2015) and the former American Magellan (mapped the planet with old technology between 1989-1994).
(Photo source: ESA / AMPE)