NASA is preparing to “take the plunge” and explore Venus with DAVINCI

DAVINCI probe near the surface of Venus

DAVINCI will send a meter-diameter probe to brave the high temperatures and pressures near Venus’ surface to explore the atmosphere from above the clouds to near the surface of a terrain that may have been a former continent. During its final kilometers of free-fall descent (artist’s impression shown here), the probe will capture spectacular images and chemistry measurements of the deepest atmosphere of Venus for the first time. Credit: NASA/GSFC/CI Labs

Inspired by the Renaissance vision of Leonardo da Vinci,

All these new and unique measurements will do

NASA’s DAVINCI mission will study the origin, evolution and current state of Venus in unprecedented detail from near the top of the clouds to the planet’s surface. The mission’s goal is to help answer many questions about our neighboring planet, particularly whether Venus was ever wet and habitable like Earth. Named after the visionary Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, the DAVINCI mission Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry and Imaging is scheduled for launch in the late 2020s.

Video transcript:

It is 900 degrees hot at the surface, has strong winds at high altitudes and is covered by a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere.

The planet Venus. Although it is the same size and density as Earth, the similarities end there.

Earth has water and life.

Venus is desolate, dry, seemingly lifeless.

The DAVINCI mission, named after Leonardo da Vinci, will now take us back to Venus and address unsolved questions about this mysterious planet.

This exciting new assignment will be launched in June 2029.

During two gravity-assisted flybys, DAVINCI will study the cloud tops in ultraviolet light, track cloud movements and analyze mysterious ultraviolet-absorbing chemicals.

Both flybys will also examine nocturnal heat coming from the surface. These geological clues will paint a global picture of the surface composition and its evolution.

Seven months after our second flyby, DAVINCI will release its Atmospheric Descent Probe, which will enter the atmosphere over two days.

The probe will take about an hour to fall through the atmosphere and take measurements down to the surface.

These measurements will include profiles of composition, wind, temperature, pressure and acceleration.

Key gases will help us understand how Venus formed and evolved. Some of these measurements can even reveal signatures of ancient water.

The spherical probe houses the state-of-the-art instruments that will work together to solve questions about the Venusian atmosphere, protecting it from the extreme temperatures, high pressures and acidic clouds of the environment.

DAVINCI’s camera looks down through a small viewing port, and as the probe passes below the clouds, it will begin collecting a series of three-dimensional views that will also help us understand whether the rocks of the Alpha Regio Highland region reveal a story of an ancient continent shaped by water . And an oxygen-sensing student collaborative experiment will reveal the role of this gas in the deep atmosphere.

The discoveries emerging from this diverse data set will help tell us whether Venus was once habitable, and the story we reveal will reach beyond our solar system to analogous exoplanets that will be observed with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Venus is waiting for us all and DAVINCI is ready to take us there and ignite a new Venus renaissance.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center leads the DAVINCI Mission as the PI institution.

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