(ORDO NEWS) — The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to send an orbital spacecraft to Venus , a solution that requires thinking outside the box to build a robust probe capable of surviving the “hellish” planet’s atmosphere.
In a recent statement, the ESA described the significant challenges the agency is facing in fulfilling EnVision’s mission.
Predictably at the top of the list of problems is our planetary neighbor’s “hot, dense atmosphere” of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid fumes, making Venus the hottest planet in the solar system .
That means the agency will need a detailed plan, brimming with revolutionary ideas, to safely “surf” Venus’s atmosphere so the spacecraft doesn’t burn up like a marshmallow getting too close to a fire.
EnVision and alluring Venus
ESA is currently in the process of planning a proven method of aerobraking (braking against the planet’s atmosphere) that involves significantly slowing down the probe so that it can lower its orbit just above the inner edge of the neighboring planet’s “crazy” atmosphere.
While in the upper atmosphere, EnVision will try to collect as much information as possible about what is happening on the surface. If everything goes according to plan, the device will make thousands of revolutions around the planet.
According to Thomas Voyren, EnVision’s upcoming mission leader, the craft will fly 150 kilometers from the surface of Venus to get the best images (radar mapping).
To achieve these goals, ESA engineers are testing various materials and coatings that could provide reliable protection for the fragile scientific instruments of the spacecraft.
Joint Race to Venus
ESA planned the EnVision mission as early as 2021 and is expected to arrive at Venus in the “early 2030s”, just a few years after NASA‘s ambitious DAVINCI mission , which, including the orbiter and lander, will travel to Venus in 2029 year.
Given the many years of cooperation between ESA and NASA – and the roughly overlapping timelines of their missions to the same goal – they most likely actively exchange experiences and ideas.
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