Europa also returns to Venus: it will send a ship to X-ray the planet

With ESA’s EnVision, there are already three missions that will be launched in the next decade to determine why the Earth and Venus evolved so differently. NASA send two more spacecraft between 2028 and 2030

Artistic recreation of the ship ‘EnVision’THAT

The riddles of Venus are a little closer to being solved today. The European Space Agency (ESA) send a spacecraft to this planet in the early 1930s, as announced this Thursday. The ship EnVision will do a complete X-ray of the planet, from its inner core to the upper atmosphere, to determine how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.

EnVision will join DAVINCI+ Y VERITAS, the two missions that NASA announced last week to this hellish world that once resembled Earth and had the conditions to support life. All three will work continuously to provide the most complete view of Venus ever.

As NASA explained in a statement, EnVision resume the work of Venus Express, which between 2005 and 2014 investigated the atmosphere of Venus and discovered possible volcanic hot spots on the planet’s surface. Another ship, the Japanese Akatsuki, has been studying the Venusian atmosphere since 2015.

EnVision benefits from the collaboration with NASA, combining the excellence of European and American knowledge in science and technology on Venus, to create this ambitious mission, “said Gnther Hasinger, ESA science director.” Our growing mission fleet It will provide us, and future generations, with the best insights into how our planetary neighborhood works, which is especially important at a time when we are discovering more and more unique exoplanet systems, “he added.

Phosphine in the clouds

During the last year, Venus has regained interest in the scientific community. Last September, an international team announced the discovery of phosphine, a gas produced on Earth by living things, in the clouds of Venus. The measurements made have been questioned by various teams so send a spacecraft in situ It is the best option to clarify if indeed that gas exists on Venus and to try to find out its origin.

Once EnVision has been chosen, the next step is to move on to the detailed “definition phase”, in which the satellite and instrument design is finalized. Then the industrial contractor to build it will be chosen. The plan is to launch the ship aboard a rocket Ariane 6 in 2031, although if the project suffers delays there are also launch windows 2032 and 2033.

According to the ESA, it will take about 15 months for the spacecraft to reach Venus and another 16 to achieve circularization of the orbit through aerobraking. Its orbit of 92 minutes will be quasipolar with an altitude of between 220 and 540 km.

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