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First Mars, Now Exploring Venus?

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

About the author
Meredith is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist as designated by the American Meteorological Society.  She was born and raised in Cleveland but has worked from coast to coast covering almost every type of weather.  Meredith is a weather, space, and STEM journalist and has been live out in the field during destructive tropical storms on the Gulf Coast of Florida, raging wildfires in Southern Cali... Load Morefornia, and covered the wreckage from tornadoes in the Great Plains. In 2009, she reported on the damaging hail storm during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in 2017, the historic California winter storms that produced record rain totals and devastating flash flooding.  Prior to joining WeatherNation, Meredith worked at KEYT/KKFX in Santa Barbara, CA, KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD, WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL, and began her career as an intern at WGN-TV in Chicago.  She was Santa Barbara's "Favorite Weathercaster of the Year" in 2016 and the Community Partner of the Year in 2017 for her volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties and awarded with the 2018 Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award. Meredith is the current chair of the American Meteorological Society's Station Scientist Committee, which focuses on raising greater awareness & outreach when it comes to science education for viewers.  She's also an accomplished journalist, producing weather and science stories including rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the new GOES-16 satellite and it's impacts on weather forecasting.  Meredith was personally invited by NASA's Johnson Space Center to interview astronauts on the International Space Station and was the only meteorologist in the nation to do an exclusive report accompanying the GOES-West satellite from Colorado to Florida, reporting on and covering it's launch in 2018.  Meredith's also worked on features that took her paragliding along the coast, white water rafting in Northern California, learning to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and how to be an aerial photographer while flying a single engine plane!

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