Venus will be the focus of a new phase of space exploration. A few days after NASA announced two missions to explore the "Earth's twin planet", the European Space Agency (ESA) launched its mission to Venus, called EnVision.
Italy will participate in the effort through the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and will provide the sounder to reveal the underground layers of the planet's surface down to a few hundred meters depth. The Principal Investigator for this part of the mission is Lorenzo Bruzzone of the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Trento, where he is also the head of the Remote Sensing Laboratory. The objective of the mission is to characterize the different stratigraphic and structural patterns of the subsurface, map the structure of geological units by exploring features such as tesserae, plains, lava ponds and impact debris, and analyze underground features that are not directly linked to the surface.
"Participating in ESA's EnVision mission and in NASA's Veritas mission", commented Barbara Negri, head of the Human flight and experiments unit at the Italian Space Agency, "will give Italy a prominent position in Venus exploration program, as it has been the case with Mars. ASI will design and create the EnVision's sounder taking advantage of Italy's scientific and industrial expertise".
"Thanks to its unique set of instruments, EnVision will be able to map extensive areas of the planet and to explore in detail its most interesting regions", said Lorenzo Bruzzone of the University of Trento, principal investigator for the equipment. "For the first time, a radar sounder will operate on the Earth's twin planet. Its subsurface measurements will be fundamental to reconstruct the geological history of Venus and will help understand the relationship between the surface, the subsurface and the atmosphere.
This mission will give us an unprecedented vision of the planet that most resembles the Earth in terms of mass, size and orbital radius. The radar sounder, high resolution spectrometers and a radio science experiment will work together to describe the planet’s different boundaries – from its inner core to upper atmosphere. With this all-encompassing approach, EnVision will tackle many important questions on Venus' past and present atmosphere, climate, geology and their relationships. The mission will provide precious information on the evolution of the planet and its current activity, to determine how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.
EnVision could be ready to launch in the early 2030s. In addition to scientific data on Venus, the mission's findings could shed light on the habitability and evolution of terrestrial planets in the Solar System and elsewhere (including the Earth and Venus-like exoplanets), providing further information on the Solar System for the Plato, Ariel and Cheops missions.
ESA's mission page: http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/ESA_selects_revolut...