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HomeBest HostingNASA's DAVINCI spacecraft will plunge into the infernal atmosphere of Venus

NASA’s DAVINCI spacecraft will plunge into the infernal atmosphere of Venus

DAVINCI deep atmosphere probe on Venus

NASA’s DAVINCI mission will study the origin, evolution and present state of Venus in unprecedented detail, from the top of the clouds to the surface of the planet. The purpose of the mission is to help answer long-standing questions about our neighboring planet, especially if Venus has ever been as humid and habitable as Earth. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Last year, NASA selected the DAVINCI mission as part of its Discovery program. It will investigate the origin, evolution and current state of[{” attribute=””>Venus in unparalleled detail from near the top of the clouds to the planet’s surface. Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, has a thick, toxic atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and an incredible pressure of pressure is 1,350 psi (93 bar) at the surface.

Named after visionary Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, the DAVINCI mission Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging will be the first probe to enter the Venus atmosphere since NASA’s Pioneer Venus in 1978 and USSR’s Vega in 1985. It is scheduled to launch in the late 2020s.

Now, in a recently published paper, NASA scientists and engineers give new details about the agency’s Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) mission, which will descend through the layered Venus atmosphere to the surface of the planet in mid-2031. DAVINCI is the first mission to study Venus using both spacecraft flybys and a descent probe.

DAVINCI, a flying analytical chemistry laboratory, will measure critical aspects of Venus’ massive atmosphere-climate system for the first time, many of which have been measurement goals for Venus since the early 1980s. It will also provide the first descent imaging of the mountainous highlands of Venus while mapping their rock composition and surface relief at scales not possible from orbit. The mission supports measurements of undiscovered gases present in small amounts and the deepest atmosphere, including the key ratio of hydrogen isotopes – components of water that help reveal the history of water, either as liquid water oceans or steam within the early atmosphere.


NASA has selected the DAVINCI + (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble-gases, Chemistry and Imaging +) mission as part of its Discovery program and will be the first spacecraft to enter the atmosphere of Venus from NASA’s Pioneer Venus in 1978 and Vega of the USSR in 1978. 1985. Named after the Renaissance artist and visionary scientist Leonardo da Vinci, the DAVINCI + mission will bring 21st century technologies to the world around them. DAVINCI + can reveal whether Earth’s sister planet was more like the twin planet Earth in the distant past, possibly hospitable, with oceans and continents. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The mission’s space shuttle, relay, and imaging spacecraft (CRIS) have two instruments on board that will study the planet’s clouds and map its mountainous areas during flights on Venus, and also launch a small five-instrument descent probe. which will provide a number of new measurements. to a very high accuracy during its descent on the infernal surface of Venus.

“This set of chemistry, environmental, and descent data will paint a picture of Venus’s stratified atmosphere and how it interacts with the area of ​​the Alpha Regio Mountains, which is twice the size of Texas,” said Jim. Garvin, lead author. of the paper from the Planetary Science Journal and Chief Investigator DAVINCI at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “These measurements will allow us to assess the historical aspects of the atmosphere, as well as detect special types of rocks on the surface, such as borders, while looking for landscape features that could tell us about erosion or other formative processes.”

DAVINCI probe Near the surface of Venus

DAVINCI will send a one-meter-diameter probe to withstand high temperatures and pressures near the surface of Venus to explore the atmosphere above the clouds to near the surface of land that could have been a past continent. During the last kilometers of free fall (the artist’s print is shown here), the probe will capture for the first time spectacular images and chemical measurements of the deepest atmosphere on Venus. Credit: NASA / GSFC / CI Labs

DAVINCI will use three Venus gravitational aids, which save fuel by using the planet’s gravity to change the speed and / or direction of the CRIS flight system. The first two gravitational aids will set up CRIS for a Venus flight to perform remote sensing in ultraviolet and near-infrared light, obtaining over 60 gigabytes of new data about the atmosphere and surface. The third gravitational assistance Venus will configure the spacecraft to release the probe for entry, descent, science and touch, plus subsequent transmission to Earth.

Venus’ first flight will take place six and a half months after launch and will take two years to put the probe into position to enter the atmosphere over Alpha Regio, under ideal lighting at “high noon”, in order to measure landscapes of Venus on a scale ranging from 328 feet (100 meters) to more than a meter. Such stairs allow geological studies in the Lander style in the mountains of Venus, without the need for landing.

DAVINCI deep atmosphere probe descends through Venus's dense carbon dioxide atmosphere

The DAVINCI Deep Atmosphere probe descends through the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus into the Alpha Regio Mountains. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Once the CRIS system is about two days away from Venus, the probe’s flight system will be released along with the three-foot-diameter (one-meter) titanium probe securely enclosed inside. The spacecraft will begin interacting with the upper atmosphere of Venus about 75 miles (120 kilometers) above the surface. The scientific probe will begin scientific observations after dropping its heat shield about 42 miles (67 kilometers) above the surface. With the heat shield discharged, the inlet holes of the probe will ingest atmospheric gas samples for detailed chemical measurements such as those made on[{” attribute=””>Mars with the Curiosity rover. During its hour-long descent to the surface, the probe will also acquire hundreds of images as soon as it emerges under the clouds at around 100,000 feet (30,500 meters) above the local surface.

“The probe will touch-down in the Alpha Regio mountains but is not required to operate once it lands, as all of the required science data will be taken before reaching the surface.” said Stephanie Getty, deputy principal investigator from Goddard. “If we survive the touchdown at about 25 miles per hour (12 meters/second), we could have up to 17-18 minutes of operations on the surface under ideal conditions.”

DAVINCI is tentatively scheduled to launch June 2029 and enter the Venusian atmosphere in June 2031.

“No previous mission within the Venus atmosphere has measured the chemistry or environments at the detail that DAVINCI’s probe can do,” said Garvin. “Furthermore, no previous Venus mission has descended over the tesserae highlands of Venus, and none have conducted descent imaging of the Venus surface. DAVINCI will build on what Huygens probe did at Titan and improve on what previous in situ Venus missions have done, but with 21st century capabilities and sensors.”

Reference: “Revealing the Mysteries of Venus: The DAVINCI Mission” by James B. Garvin, Stephanie A. Getty, Giada N. Arney, Natasha M. Johnson, Erika Kohler, Kenneth O. Schwer, Michael Sekerak, Arlin Bartels, Richard S. Saylor, Vincent E. Elliott, 24 May 2022, The Planetary Science Journal.
DOI: 10.3847/PSJ/ac63c2

NASA Goddard is the principal investigator institution for DAVINCI and will perform project management for the mission, provide science instruments as well as project systems engineering to develop the probe flight system. Goddard also leads the project science support team with an external science team from across the US. Discovery Program class missions like DAVINCI complement NASA’s larger “flagship” planetary science explorations, with the goal of achieving outstanding results by launching more smaller missions using fewer resources and shorter development times. They are managed for NASA’s Planetary Science Division by the Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Major partners for DAVINCI are Lockheed Martin, Denver, Colorado, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, California, NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California’s Silicon Valley, and KinetX, Inc., Tempe, Arizona, as well as the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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