A new NASA mission to Venus has been launched.
A new space mission hopes to solve some of Venus’s riddles, such as whether it was once livable.
British scientists will play a key role in the EnVision mission, which will investigate the geology and atmosphere of our neighboring planet in order to figure out why Earth became the only known planet capable of supporting life.
The mission costs 610 million euros and is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision program.
Its goal is to learn more about Venus by looking into historic and current volcanic activity, as well as tracking the important volcanic gases that keep the planet’s clouds and hostile climate going.
Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Oxford, and Imperial College London will compare geologic and atmospheric processes on Earth and other planets in collaboration with European and American scientists.
It’s fascinating to examine how much Venus resembles our world and what its secrets might reveal about our environment and what makes our planet so unique in its ability to support life.
They want to learn more about how Venus’s interior, surface, and atmosphere interact to affect its evolution.
In terms of size, composition, and distance from our Sun, Venus is the most Earth-like planet.
Earth and Venus were supposed to have been fairly similar when they first formed, with molten rock oceans and heavy atmospheres of carbon dioxide and steam.
However, Earth evolved to become a habitable planet, while Venus may or may not have had a livable phase with liquid water oceans before generating a runaway greenhouse effect that heats its surface to an uncomfortable 450 degrees Fahrenheit today.
“I’m happy that British scientists have been chosen once again to play a key role in a mission that will improve humankind’s understanding of the universe,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway.
“It’s fascinating to think how many parallels Venus and our Earth share, and what its secrets might reveal about our climate and what makes our planet so unique in its ability to support life.”
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