NASA has just released plans for a new mission called Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gasses, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI). Details of this daring feat have just been released in a paper by the agency, explaining their plan to descend through Venus’ layered atmosphere to the planet’s surface. If all goes according to plan, DAVINCI will reach Venus by mid-2031 and make history as the first mission to descend on the planet.
What is DAVINCI?
The DAVINCI craft will basically be a flying chemistry lab, measuring essential unknown aspects of Venus’ atmosphere and climate. The aircraft will also carry out imaging of Venus’ highland mountains, charting their rock composition and cloud maps in detail.
A medley of instruments and probes will be dropped down to the hellish surface of Venus to take these readings at very high specificity. One of these probes will be released 42 miles (67 kilometers) above the surface, where it will make its hour-long descent. After breaking through the planet’s clouds, the machine will take hundreds of images to capture as much information as possible.
“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 NASA scientist Stephanie Getty in a press release. “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.”
What will DAVINCI uncover?
It is thought that the mission will support the measurement of undiscovered gasses – such as unbalanced versions of hydrogen – present in minuscule amounts in the planet’s atmosphere. From this, scientists expect to learn more about the history of water on Earth, such as its origins as liquid or steam in the early atmosphere.
This will reveal more mysterious information about the planet’s atmospheric and geological stories. “This ensemble of chemistry, environmental, and descent imaging data will paint a picture of the layered Venus atmosphere and how it interacts with the surface in the mountains of Alpha Regio, which is twice the size of Texas,” said Jim Garvin, DAVINCI principal investigator at NASA.
He continues: “These measurements will allow us to evaluate historical aspects of the atmosphere as well as to detect special rock types at the surface such as granites while also looking for tell-tale landscape features that could tell us about erosion or other formational processes.”
Source study: The Planetary Science Journal – Revealing the Mysteries of Venus: The DAVINCI Mission