EnVision Mission to Venus By ESA

The EnVision Mission to Venus is announced by the European Space Agency- ESA on June 10th 2021. EnVision Mission will be ESA’s next Venus orbiter, providing a holistic view of the planet from its inner core to upper atmosphere to determine how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.

This topic is very important for candidates preparing for the IAS exam from the current affairs point of view.

The article will give detailed information on EnVision Mission to Venus so that aspirants can comprehensively prepare for the upcoming UPSC Prelims and Mains examinations.

EnVision Mission of ESA

  1. A few days after NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US Space Agency) announced that it has selected two space missions to Venus, the European Space Agency said that EnVision would be its next mission to head to Venus as an orbiter.  
  2. The EnVision Mission is likely to be launched sometime in the 2030s. 
  3. EnVision mission to Venus is ESA’s lead mission with contribution from NASA.
  4. The spacecraft will take about 15 months to reach Venus after it is launched on an Ariane 6 rocket. To achieve orbit circularisation another 16 months will be required.
  5. To monitor trace gases in the atmosphere, study the planet’s surface and atmosphere and analyze the composition of its surface, the spacecraft will carry a range of instruments.
  6. NASA will provide a radar that will help to image and map the surface.
  7. Another ESA-led mission to Venus called ‘Venus Express’ (2005-2014) will lead the EnVision mission. Venus Express mission focussed on atmospheric research and pointed to volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface.

What EnVision Mission Aims to Answer by Studying Venus?

  1. What history did Venus experience to arrive at this state and does this foretell Earth’s fate should it, too, undergo a catastrophic greenhouse effect? 
  2. Is Venus still geologically active? 
  3. Could it have once hosted an ocean and even sustained life?
  4. What lessons can be learned about the evolution of terrestrial planets in general, as we discover more Earth-like exoplanets? 

Are some of the questions that ESA’s Mission aims to answer.

Candidates can go through the following links to know in-depth information for comprehensive preparation of upcoming UPSC examination-

Significance of Studying Venus

  1. Studying Venus will serve as a cautionary tale on how dramatically a planet’s climate can change.
  2. It will help to learn how Earth-like planets evolve and what conditions exist on Earth sized exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than our sun).
  3. It will also help in modelling Earth’s climate.
  4. Scientists speculate about the existence of life on Venus in its distant past and the possibility that life may exist in the top layers of its clouds where temperatures are less extreme.
  5. In 2020, scientists detected the presence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. Phosphine is a chemical produced only through biological processes.

Other Missions To Venus

  1. India’s mission – the country plans to launch mission Shukryaan to Venus in 2024.
  2. US – NASA is planning to send DAVINCI + and VERITAS two new robotic missions to Venus for an approximate cost of USD 500 Million each. These missions will launch between 2028 and 2030.
VERITAS is short for ‘Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy’ and will map the planet’s surface to determine its geologic history and understand the reasons why it developed so differently from Earth
DAVINCI+  first US-led mission to the planet’s atmosphere since 1978, is short for ‘Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging’.

  • To see how the planet formed and evolved, DAVINCI + will understand Venus’ composition.
  • This mission also consists of a descent sphere that will pass through the planet’s thick atmosphere and make observations and take measurements of noble gases and other elements.

Some other space missions to Venus by the US include Magellan in 1989, Pioneer Venus 1 and Pioneer Venus 2 in 1978, and Mariner series 1962-1974.

  1. Japan – Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has also been studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2015.
  2. Russia – Vegas 1 and 2 in 1985, and Venera series of spacecraft from 1967 to 1983 are Russia’s missions to Venus.

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