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Jul 17, 2020

More Details On NASA’s VERITAS Mission, Which Could Go to Venus

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering, satellites

Venus has always been a bit of the odd stepchild in the solar system. It’s similarities to Earth are uncanny: roughly the same size, mass, and distance from the sun. But the development paths the two planets ended up taking were very different, with one being the birthplace of all life as we know it, and the other becoming a cloud-covered, highly pressurized version of hell. That cloud cover, which is partially made up of sulfuric acid, has also given the planet an air of mystery. So much so that astronomers in the early 20th century speculated that there could be dinosaurs roaming about on the surface.

Some of that mystery will melt away if a team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory gets a chance to launch their newest idea for a mission to the planet, the Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topograph, and Spectroscopy (or VERITAS) mission.

VERITAS, which means “truth” in Latin, will seek to understand several truths about Venus. To do this it will rely, like all NASA missions on the instruments that make up its scientific payload. Since VERITAS is planned as an orbiter rather than a lander, its instrumentation will focus primarily on remote sensing. It will house two primary instruments, the Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM) and the Venus Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (VISAR). VERITAS will also be able to do some additional science without even needing a stand-alone instrument. In a neat bit of engineering innovation, the telecommunication system that the satellite uses to send data back to Earth will also be used to map the strength of variations in Venus’ gravitational field.

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