It’s been 30 years since NASA’s last visit to Venus by the Magellan spacecraft was in 1990. Now, two new missions have been chosen to explore the dangerous atmosphere, pressure and volcanic topography.
This process dates back to February 2020, when NASA announced that four missions would have to go through a nine-month peer review process to be feasible. They are all part of the Discovery project, started by NASA in 1992 to bring scientists and engineers together to create exciting and exotic missions. In addition to core missions such as Curiosity and Perseverance, missions under Discovery have taken a unique and innovative approach to exploring the solar system.
Two of Venus̵7; winning missions, Davinci and Veritas, have been awarded $500 million (£354 million) and will be launched between 2028 and 2030, but the competition is tough with both missions losing. Which will have to go to Io and Triton, the moons of Jupiter and Neptune respectively. As a result, what have we missed?
Explore Jupiter’s Strange Moons
Io is a strange moon – even among the moons. which is starting to get weird As the innermost moon of Jupiter It orbits just 350,000 km above the cloud tops. It gives Io the superheated mechanism that makes Io the most volcanic object in the solar system. with more than four hundred volcanoes
You might think that since we live on a fairly volcanic planet, So we have no idea where all this heat comes from. In fact, according to Alfred McEwen, Principal Investigator on the proposed Io Volcanic Explorer, or IVO mission, we still deeply disregard how it works.
Read more: NASA Announces Two Missions to Venus by 2030 – Here’s Why Exciting Why
The IVO is designed to perform multiple lunar flybys and use a series of tools to map activity above and below the surface. By collecting data on Io’s magnetic and gravitational fields, videotaping colossal lava eruptions. And by analyzing the gas and dust escaping the moon IVO will help scientists learn how Io’s heat is generated.
All this information is important. Not just for great videos of volcanoes in space. This type of extreme activity is believed to be an important part of planetary formation and evolution. By understanding the processes that drive change on Io, we can learn more about how planets and moons form.
The least explored and least understood planets are Uranus and Neptune. And they are home to some of the strangest things in the Solar System. Uranus is axially inclined. which is the angle of the axis of rotation relative to the plane orbiting the Sun. to the extreme until it turns sideways It is thought to be the result of a massive collision in the solar system in the past.
meanwhile Neptune is the birthplace of the only large moon that orbits backwards around its parent planet. That’s the curious Triton. The strange arrangement of orbits is not at the end of the weirdness. Triton’s orbiting plane was offset by a temperature of 23 degrees compared to that of Neptune. and is believed to have moved to Neptune from the Kuiper Belt. This is an area beyond Neptune’s orbit filled with ice left over from the formation of the solar system.
Triton also has an active iosphere. It is a layer of charged particles in the atmosphere that are ten times more active than other moons, which are not powered by the sun. Like the ever-changing and dynamic textures. which is coated with what may be nitrogen snow . When Voyager 2 photographed the moon It discovered a frozen volcano. The geysers erupted ice and gas up to 8 km, possibly indicating a subsurface ocean.
The proposed Trident mission will explore many strange things about these moons. It proposes a three-pronged method using Triton’s magnetic field measuring instrument. It identifies the existence and structure of the subsurface ocean. High-resolution infrared cameras will allow the spacecraft to capture images of the entire surface. using sunlight reflected from Neptune This shows scientists what has changed since its last visit in 1989. Finally, the spacecraft will try to find out if Triton’s surface remains dynamic and young.
Trident and IVO were ultimately defeated by the Venus mission. It would be interesting to explore the tip of the solar system or look at Io’s enormous volcano again. But Venus is an interesting planet. It has its own mystery and potential.