The first two days of June have already generated out of this world excitement for not one, but two planets in our Solar System.
On June 1, NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover
celebrated 100 days (sols) on the Red Planet. Back on February 18, the world watched for the first time in almost a decade a rover land on Mars
, the beginning of a successful and exciting mission that included the first powered, controlled flight on another planet
as well as routine weather reports of the Martian atmosphere!
Pretty cool, right? But...I did say planets, and yes, there's another one that we will be planning to explore: Venus!
If your desire is also to learn more about our closest planet neighbor that's millions of miles away, get ready as two missions have been chosen to embark on by NASA and expected to launch between 2028 and 2030.
“It is astounding how little we know about Venus, but the combined results of these missions will tell us about the planet from the clouds in its sky through the volcanoes on its surface all the way down to its very core,” said Tom Wagner, NASA’s Discovery Program
scientist. “It will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”
The two missions selected will be DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy). According to NASA, following a competitive, peer-review process, they were chosen based on their potential scientific value and the feasibility of their development plans. And what happens now? There will be project teams that will begin to finalize everything that will need to go into making this next big visit happen.
“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse. Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets and habitability in our own solar system, but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting and emerging area of research for NASA.”
DAVINCI+ will be focusing on studying what makes up Venus' atmosphere so we can learn more about the history of the planet. It will be the first U.S.-led mission to the atmosphere of the planet since 1978 and will be managed by Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
VERITAS will dig a little deeper into the geologic history to determine what made it develop differently than Earth, the type of rock that makes up the planet, and if there are still active volcanoes or plate tectonics.
For more information about NASA’s planetary science, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/solarsystem