Europe's next Venus orbiter will determine why Earth's twin is so different
EnVision, a mission led by the European Space Agency (ESA) in partnership with NASA, will determine how and why Earth's closest neighbour, Venus, is so different when it launches in the early 2030s.
Venus is often referred to as Earth's twin because it is similar in size, mass, and composition to Earth. Both planets are thought to have formed at roughly the same time. Despite these similarities, the two planets started to evolve very differently.
EnVision will be the first mission to make detailed observations of Venus to understand its history and climate. The mission will also determine how Venus' atmosphere and climate are shaped by geological processes.
The spacecraft will use a suite of innovative instruments to tackle these big questions about our nearest planetary neighbour. It will also be the first mission to Venus with a subsurface radar sounding instrument (SRS), which will directly measure the planet's subsurface features.
🛰️ #EnVision will be ESA’s next #Venus orbiter. It will observe the planet from its inner core to its upper atmosphere to tell us if Venus:🌋 is still geologically active🌊 ever hosted an ocean 🦠 ever sustained life pic.twitter.com/TqZPWgUrPt— ESA Science (@esascience) March 21, 2023
The EnVision spacecraft is estimated to take around 15 months to reach its science orbit - a quasi-polar with an altitude of between 220 km and 540 km. It will follow in the footsteps of other recent missions to Venus including ESA's Venus Express and JAXA's Akatsuki.
Together with NASA's forthcoming DAVINCI+ ( short for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS ( short for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) missions, EnVision will provide the most comprehensive study of Venus ever.
Data gathered by these missions will help scientists understand the processes that shape terrestrial planets, and to better understand the conditions that can support life on other planets in the universe.
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