NASA’s DAVINCI space probe plunges into the infernal atmosphere of Venus

NASA’s DAVINCI mission will study the origin, evolution and current state of Venus in unprecedented detail from near the top of the clouds to the planet’s surface. The goal of the mission is to help answer long-standing questions about our neighboring planet, especially whether Venus is as wet and habitable as Earth. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

last year, NASA has been selected The DAVINCI’S MISSION As part of her Discovery programme. It will investigate the origin, development and condition[{” 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.

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NASA has chosen the DAVINCI+ mission (Deep Atmosphere Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry, and Imaging+) as part of its discovery program, and it will be the first probe to enter the atmosphere of Venus since NASA’s Venus astronaut in 1978 and USSR Vega in 1985. Name the mission of DAVINCI+ for Renaissance artist and scholar, Leonardo da Vinci, to bring 21st century technologies to the next world. DAVINCI+ may reveal whether Earth’s sister planet looks a lot like Earth’s twin in a distant past, possibly hospitable with oceans and continents. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The mission’s Carrier, Relay, and Imaging (CRIS) spacecraft has two instruments on board that will study the planet’s clouds and map highland regions as Venus flyby, and it will also drop a small, five-instrument lander that will provide a variety of new measurements with extremely high accuracy as it descends. to the surface of infernal Venus.

“This set of chemical, environmental and lineage data will paint a picture of Venus’s atmosphere layers and how they interact with the surface in the Alpha Reggio Mountains, which are twice the size of Texas,” said Jim Garvin, lead author. From the research paper in the Journal of Planetary Science and the DAVINCI Principal Investigator from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “These measurements will allow us to assess historical aspects of the atmosphere as well as detect special rock types at the surface such as granite while also looking for landscape features that could tell us about erosion or other formative processes.”

Da Vinci probe near the surface of Venus

DAVINCI will send a probe with a diameter of one meter to withstand the high temperatures and pressures near the surface of Venus to explore the atmosphere from above the clouds to near the surface of terrain that may have been a former continent. During its final kilometers of free-fall (artist’s impression is shown here), the probe will capture stunning images and chemical measurements of the deepest atmosphere on Venus for the first time. Credit: NASA/GSFC/CI Labs

DAVINCI will use three types of Venus’ gravity aids, which provide fuel by using the planet’s gravity to change the speed and/or direction of the CRIS flight system. The first two gravitational assistants will help prepare CRIS for a Venus flyby to perform remote sensing in the ultraviolet and near infrared, obtaining more than 60 gigabytes of new data about the atmosphere and surface. Venus’ third gravity assist will create the spacecraft to launch the probe for entry, descent, flag and landing, as well as follow-up transmissions back to Earth.

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The first flyby of Venus will be six and a half months after launch, and it will take two years to put the probe into position to re-enter the atmosphere above Alpha Regio under perfect illumination at “noon,” with the goal of measuring the landscape of Venus at scales from 328 feet (100 metres). ) to finer than one metre. These gauges allow lander-style geological studies to be conducted in the Venus Mountains without the need for a landing.

The Da Vinci Deep Atmosphere Probe descends through the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus

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

Once CRIS is about two days away from Venus, the probe’s flight system will launch along with the three-foot (one meter) titanium probe safely encased inside. The probe will begin interacting with Venus’s upper atmosphere 75 miles (120 kilometers) above the surface. The science probe will begin science observations after the heat shield is eliminated about 42 miles (67 kilometers) above the surface. With the heat shield removed, the probe’s inlets would swallow samples of atmospheric gas for detailed chemical measurements of the kind that were 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.”

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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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