Following NASA’s footsteps, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it has selected EnVision as its next orbiter that will visit Venus sometime in the 2030s
What is EnVision?
- EnVision is an ESA-led mission with contributions from NASA. It is likely to be launched sometime in the 2030s.
- The earliest launch opportunity for EnVision is 2031, followed by 2032 and 2033.
- Once launched on an Ariane 6 rocket, the spacecraft will take about 15 months to reach Venus and will take 16 more months to achieve orbit circularization.
- The spacecraft will carry a range of instruments to study the planet’s atmosphere and surface, monitor trace gases in the atmosphere and analyses its surface composition.
- At the core of the ESA’s mission is the question of how Earth and Venus evolved so differently from each other considering that they are roughly of the same size and composition.
- Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system because of the heat that is trapped by its thick cloud cover.
- Last year, a team of scientists reported that they had found phosphine gas (a chemical produced only through biological processes) in the atmosphere of Venus.
- This triggered excitement in the scientific community that some life forms might be supported by the planet.
- But the existence of life on the planet is nearly impossible given the high temperatures of Venus and its acidic atmosphere.